200 years ago was written what would become one of the most important fantastic and at some points philosophic novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Despite its old fashion, Victorian era style the Frankenstein is still worth reading and studying at the light of today’s progress and madness in artificial intelligence (AI).
I read Frankenstein the same summer I discovered Asimov’s Robots Cycle, and I can’t help but relate the 2 centuries old novel to The Naked Sun. If you had to read only one of Asimov’s Robots novel, pick up The Naked Sun. It revolves with a paradox in Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics where a robot ends killing a human.
Did you ever notice how we often call Frankenstein’s creature by the name of its creator? Doing so, we both identify the monster to the one who created it and push him aside in the shadow so we forget that mankind can engender such a monstrosity. Or maybe the name Frankenstein itself sounds like the one of the monster when Albert Einstein reminds us of the old tongue pulling genius we love to show on our t-shirts, and one of the Bomb fathers.
All comparison aside, Frankenstein still has a few lessons to give. As deep and machine learning has us pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence, creating virtual personal assistants, support chat bots and even surgeon replacement prototypes, there’s still a chance we end creating a monster. By making his own soul less self out of Science, Dr Frankenstein wanted to become as powerful as his creator. Developing AI, but also trying to push genetics searches further, we’re repeating the same process and the risks are exactly the same. One doesn’t become his own creator without the danger of being destroyed by his own creature. Before we reach this point, there are many questions about pride, ethics, and the existence of the soul we need to answer.