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The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov builds an almost surreal environment and places Andrew Martin, a robot who wishes to be human, in the middle of it. This story tries to convey two major themes in this novel, the first being that humanity depends too much on the assistance of machines and robots and as people, we have lost all our self-reliance. The second one, which focuses more on the main character Andrew, is to never lose sight of who you are. No matter what happens to you and no matter what other people say, you must always be who you are and not try to change yourself for the convenience of others.
In the case of Andrew Martin, a robot who truly yearns to be free but has to overcome adversity to do so, a theme of self-realization and self-belief comes up. In the story, Andrew makes a transformation from robot to human, and for every step closer he gets to his goal, he must triumph over criticism and doubt. For instance, when he wanted to be acknowledged as ‘free’, he had to go to court and although he got what he wanted, he still got disrespected and slandered for being different. However, Andrew stayed brave in the face of adversity and through countless efforts, he reached his goal and did not lose sight of who he wanted to be. In the example of human dependence, we look at the setting of the story, rather than the characters in it. The story takes place in the not-to distant future. The main change, it seems, is the addition of robots. Technology is always on the rise, and is always used not only for necessary purposes, but to further allow humans to not have to worry about things that get in their free way of life, such as work, or various other chores.
The message about technological dependence implies that as humans, we have had the advantage of technology for almost every purpose imaginable. It can be used for keeping us alive (ex. prosthetic heart), and keeping us entertained (ex. TV). Those are all fine, but when is it enough? Humans have made many inventions to allow us to save our time to enjoy things we want to do (ex. dishwasher as opposed to washing dishes by hand), but unless we start to show some initiative in our work, we will continue to advance up until the point where we will lack all of our resourcefulness and we will have entire dependence on machines.
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Foundation universe, Positronic brain, Robot series, Robot, The Positronic Man, The Bicentennial Man, WALL-E, Isaac Asimov, Three Laws of Robotics, Taarlab
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