The Pygmalion Myth Is the Easiest Way to Write About Robots

At least if you’re planning to write a robot-romance.

The question then becomes whether or not you plan on subverting what you’re doing; inherently there are issues with Pygmalion and his woman: one, the fact that he didn’t like any women until he made his own, two, the fact that Galatea is an object, and three, the position of Aphrodite in any of this. In the robot version Pygmalion and Aphrodite might be one in the same, but then there’s the issue of autonomy on the part of the robot and whether or not it’s actually capable of consenting (this has been discussed in artificial intelligence/robot ethics, and there’s a site advocating against robot sex under the flag that having sex with a robot has everything to do with the objectification of women–but neglects the idea that there are women who would have sex with robot and that there’s literature on the subject. I digress).

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I know that it reiterates stories that have been told before in different takes (one end of the spectrum including “Ex Machina,” which does focus on the object-aspect of the whole creator-making-and-then-fucking-his-robot). I haven’t figured out how to get around the ethics unless we’re just pretending that the robot is actually a person under a different title (science fiction relies on this). We don’t have to care how it’s possible for a robot to make its own decisions (though robotic and artificial intelligence ethics are telling us that we really should not make things that are capable of these things), just that it’s capable of doing so in the first place.

Maybe I’ll revisit Asimov.


Author: jillboger

Part time writer. Editor-in-Chief for the Bridge volume 13, former EIC for The Odyssey at BSU. My glasses protect my secret identity.

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