Today Caramel reviews Daniel H. Wilson’s How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion (2005). As usual, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.
Sprinkles: Caramel, I know you love robots, and so it was natural that you would pick up a book with robots in its title. So what did you think of How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion?
Caramel: I thought it was a good book. But there is one small problem.
S: Wait, I think I know! Unlike some of the other robot books you have reviewed for our blog, this book is not about lovable robots. Instead, it is about bad robots, right?
C: Kind of. It is about what you should do if robots decide to turn bad and take over the world.
S: I can see that from the title. Reminds me of some of the zombie books I reviewed a while back.
C: Don’t talk about zombies. I don’t like them. But yes, kind of like that. What happens if something really bad happens? How do you survive? But this is a lot better than your zombie books.
S: How come?
C: Well, zombies are made up. But robots are real. And this book has a lot of real facts about robots. And for some reason it teaches you how to make an EMP grenade.
S: What’s that?
C: An electromagnetic pulse grenade. You can use it to fry the circuits of a robot.
S: I see. So it would be a way to stop a bad robot.
C: But it could kill it! And that is bad. You can reason with a robot, and maybe talk it out of being bad, but if you kill it, it is dead. And you can’t take that back.
S: You are right of course.
C: Then again, if it is really evil, you might not be able to talk it out of it. Then, maybe, you do need to do something about it.
C: I don’t like it.
S: I totally understand, Caramel. I know you love robots, and you would not want to harm any of them.
S: But back to the book. Did you learn some new things from it?
C: Yes. For example, I did not know about EMP grenades before. The book also talks about different types of robots, and that is cool. There is a part about speech recognition and how it is hard. Some scientists apparently wore a T-shirt with the sentence “I helped Apple wreck a nice beach”, which is a bad way to write down the original sentence “I helped Apple recognize speech”. So that was cool!
S: Yeah, speech recognition is hard, but it has improved so much in the last few years! My phone used to not understand me very well before, and now it gets almost everything I say right. But today, everyone is obsessed with ChatGPT and other AI tools that can write essays and answer lots of questions, though not always correctly. Some people are really worried about artificial intelligence. So I think this book is sort of humorously opening up that fear.
S: Are you afraid of robots?
C: Kind of but also kind of not. I want to have a robot friend, like R2-D2 or BB-8.
S: Yes, those are really friendly robots, and also very cute.
C: I think so too. I don’t think I’d be afraid of such robots.
S: But the robots in this book are not that kind of robot.
C: They are not. But humans build robots, so they could just build friendly ones.
S: I guess some fear that, at some point, robots would evolve and decide that humans are not treating them well enough or that humans do not deserve the support of robots.
C: I guess so.
S: Do you know of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics? Here they are:
First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics
Then there is a zeroth law too, but I will leave that for another day.
C: I do know these laws! And I really like them! I think all robots should be created with those laws built in. And maybe I should read some Asimov.
S: Okay, you can start with his short story “Robbie“. I really like that one.
C: Okay, I will read it then.
S: That means this is a good time to wrap this review up. What do you want to tell our readers, Caramel?
C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!