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Was Stephen Byerley a robot?

by ambrus (Abbot)
on Dec 01, 2010 at 11:26 UTC ( #874648=poll: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Vote on this poll

[bar] 48/10%
[bar] 9/2%
We'll never know
[bar] 40/8%
The difference is unimportant
[bar] 46/9%
[bar] 16/3%
Stephen who?
[bar] 326/67%
485 total votes
Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by apl (Monsignor) on Dec 01, 2010 at 12:04 UTC
    Asimov was just so good... Science Fiction is at its best when it's used to probe questions of morality...
      Not to mention he wrote all of the 'I, Robot' stories before 1951. Even 10 years later, the most sophisticated depiction of robots was like Robby the Robot


Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by pileofrogs (Priest) on Dec 02, 2010 at 21:19 UTC

    Perlmonks is awesome.... where else would you get that many people to honestly say "I don't know" to anything?

Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by Tux (Canon) on Dec 01, 2010 at 12:17 UTC

    The high number (currently and relative) of "Stephen Who?" votes makes me feel not standing alone :).

    I looked up this `person' on wikipedia to find out it was a character in a novel. As I do not read, and certainly no SF, that explained to me why I never heard of it before. The poll didn't have any links to the options, so voting was very easy this time!

    Enjoy, Have FUN! H.Merijn
      Darn, I feel ashamed ... I do read quite a bit, and used to read a lot of sf when I was younger ... how did I miss this?

      I will have to add _I, Robot_ to my list of missed sf classics ...

      you read the poll :)
Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by wjw (Priest) on Dec 03, 2010 at 18:16 UTC

    Asimov made such an interesting examination of the age old question: 'What is the difference... and do we trust those who we perceive as different?'

    He managed to tackle this question (which is often racially based and awkward even when not intentionally offensive) by creating a new race and making that race just different enough to allow dialog about the question while isolating it from the awkwardness. And he managed to do so while maintaining a plot which was entertaining!

    I read 'I Robot' and many others by Asimov in Jr. High, and at 49 years old, am still impacted by his ability to provide thought provoking entertainment.

    Was the character a robot? I don't know, but he was stubborn enough to be human... which is close enough for me regardless of the chemical makeup and mechanical components... :-) ..would I have voted for him though...?

    • ...the majority is always wrong, and always the last to know about it...
    • The Spice must flow...
    • my will, and by will alone.. I set my mind in motion
Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by mertserger (Curate) on Dec 06, 2010 at 10:26 UTC
    I used to read as much asimov as I could lay my hands on and I didn't get the reference either until I used Wikipedia. I used to get so much teasing from school friends because they didn't think girls should read SF (never understood their reasoning on that one)
      Trust me, teasing for reading SF was not limited to girls...


Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by Illuminatus (Curate) on Dec 01, 2010 at 18:08 UTC
    My vote would have gone to 'no robot would be stupid enough to go into politics'. As a corollary, if a robot did go into politics, the results would undoubtedly be bad. I think you either get Norman in Star Trek and the "Liar's Paradox", or bedlam for the governed, ala the HAL 9000 and the "Hofstadter–Moebius loop"


Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by swampyankee (Parson) on Dec 04, 2010 at 14:09 UTC

    Reading the wikipedia article reminded me that I had read that story, quite a long time ago. I've read much of Asimov's works, although I found some of it to be less enjoyable on rereading past, say, 40 ;).

    Had I read the article before voting, I would have said "no," because that would bring the human-robot morality into the starkest contrast: Byerly was accused of being a robot because he was too good to be human.

    Information about American English usage here and here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting. — emc

Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by talexb (Chancellor) on Dec 02, 2010 at 21:57 UTC

    I remember this story, and thought this might to whom the question referred .. but it's probably been twenty years since I read it. I'm glad to see my memory's not completely gone -- I voted "I don't know" because I wasn't sure.

    Asimov -- one of the two best writers of science fiction, ever.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by raybies (Chaplain) on Dec 01, 2010 at 15:17 UTC
    Followup question... Was Mr. Dark the devil, a psychic vampire, just another carnival freak, or just a really bad, yet misunderstood, gift-giver?
      I thank my ancestors for appending the 'e'.

      Clive Darke
Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by jimbus (Friar) on Dec 14, 2010 at 20:29 UTC

    I like Asimov's building of the worlds and concepts, but every single one of the books I read (with was mainly the foundation triogy and some short stories) ended with:

    Ahah, I got you!

    Ahah, ahah, you only think you got me, I got you!

    Ahah ahah2, ..., ahahn! ad naseum

    --Jimbus aka Jim Babcock
    Once and former Geek
      Yes, but I really enjoyed that type of funning in a very short story about a starship torn apart by tidal forces around a neutron star and he goes on to describe how one of the few barely identifiable pieces must have been a wrench from the engineer's toolbox - indeed it was a star-mangled spanner.

      Not a huge fan but, twenty-five years on and it still makes me smile.

      perl -e 'print qq(Just another Perl Hacker\n)' # where's the irony switch?
        That story was written by Arthur C Clarke, not Asimov. And, I believe the basic idea was taken from the short story 'Neutron Star' by Larry Niven. I doubt he would have hesitated to give Niven credit, as the only apparent reason for the story was just to set up that line. I think SF writers love puns more than writers in any other genre...


Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by ChuckularOne (Prior) on Dec 01, 2010 at 17:41 UTC
    I was more of a Heinlein, Herbert fan myself. Never really got into Asimov.

      Oh, Asimov, is that what this poll is about? No wonder I was lost. I read some Asimov short stories once, and meh. Nothing about them inspired me to read any of his longer works. His character development was flat, and his handling of technology was cheesy and unrealistic on a level that reminded me of Hana-Barbara cartoons (not the Jetsons specifically, just Hana-Barbara cartoons in general). The cheesy handling of technology might not be such a big deal except for the fact that his stories were mostly *about* the technology, so it kind of gets in the reader's face. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Maybe I'm just picky.

Re: Was Stephen Byerley a robot?
by ambrus (Abbot) on Apr 15, 2014 at 05:25 UTC

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