What Are You Made Of?
edited: Sunday, July 02, 2006
By Gary P Starta
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, July 01, 2006
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Author pens first science fiction novel What Are You Made Of? Read on for synopsis and story line. Go to my website garystarta.com for ordering info.
Gary Starta has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalistic Studies/English
from the University of Massachusetts and resides in New Jersey.
The author of numerous science fiction short stories, he is currently at work on a second novel.
“What Are You Made Of”, his first science fiction novel, explores how humanity would deal with sentient artificial intelligence in the 25th century. This book was released in Spring 2006.
Dr. Adrian McElroy's dream has just come true . Unfortunately, his colleagues don't share his enthusiasm. They have all become sick from radiation poisoning while readying the planet Ceres for colonization. McElroy wants to save the mission, but more importantly, he wants to personally satisfy his desire to create sentient artificial intelligence. He now has a very good excuse, despite the mistrust of one engineer named Mikola Petrovsky. Petrovsky has always been an opponent of artificial life – ever since they took away his job at the World Aeronautics Association. He sees McElroy's plan as nothing more than man's obsession to play God. Petrovsky and the others eventually comply to the doctor's wishes, knowing their deaths will have been meaningless if they fail to ready the planet for 10 civilians en route to the planet. Adrian will place their conscious minds into android bodies before they physically succumb to the radiation. Almost all the scientists are committed to devoting their last vestige of humanity for the good of project. But not Mikola. He signed up for the mission because of a lust for prestige. Now he discovers his lust for revenge is just as strong. He will become something he hates the most, a human/android hybrid. Petrovsky is not an altruistic individual. Deep inside his darkest humanity he clings to a notion – that his transformation will put him in a position to destroy artificial life – once and for all.
Questions and Answers
Q: Who do the androids represent?
A: They represent any race or gender who feels their rights have been violated. In the world of the 25th century, robots cannot be given sentient programming or human like facial features under federation law. Lawmakers see them only as machines, providing free labor in a capitalistic world.
Q: What does Ceres represent?
A: This new planet represents a “new start” or more aptly a “New America.” Linda Dougherty is leading a group of civilians to the planet. She hopes all beings, including artificial ones, will be truly free here with no civil unrest or wars. However, she knows her visions are very idealistic. Big business, which is now funding the colonization effort, has had a hand in denying rights for artificial beings in the past. Even her husband has succumbed to a very capitalistic lifestyle. But Linda is ever the humanitarian. She hopes equality for all can still become a reality, even when free enterprise reaches Ceres.
Q: Do people in the 21st century fear and loathe artificial intelligence as much as the character Mikola Petrovsky?
A: Possibly, but not to his extreme. Right now seeds of fear are being planted because of automation. Some see duality in the implementation of things like EZ-Pass. There is convenience, but also a threat that jobs will be taken away from humans. In the world of this book, federal lawmakers have tried to ease the public's fear by outlawing creation of an AI in human form. Dr. McElroy despises this control because he sees the hypocrisy. Big business likes the idea of an efficient employee who requires no rest, pay or benefits. These faceless robots are still replacing human workers, even though they resemble machines. Adrian McElroy wants his AI's to benefit humankind, without the exploitation. Although there are no sentient artificial beings in our present day world, I can envision the day when we will be forced to decide just what “makes up” a sentient being. In that future, sentience will no longer be confined to organic beings. We may have to change our definitions of what constitutes humanity.
McElroy wondered how the individual personalities of the scientists would influence the artificial intelligence. So far he had only one example to go by. The android James Starkman had pretty much been governed by the experiences and character of the late boy. But would further mergers of mind and machinery produce varied results? The cybernetic genius was saddened by the fact that he would not be around to study the data. His mind then flashed as to how a fail safe could be implemented if one of the androids exhibited undesirable behavior. McElroy tried to suppress his instinct to conclude that the android in question would probably be the one linked to Petrovsky's memories. “No scientific endeavor could successfully be conducted with such bias,” the doctor told himself. “Still, an emergency plan would be necessary to prevent the androids from taking any actions deemed harmful to the civilians.” McElroy then pondered how he could implement such a plan without exposing the androids to constant censorship....
In the Starkman residence, Joyce and James were spending some quality time at the kitchen table. “Can I refill your tea cup, honey?” Joyce asked her son. The incident with Mikola Petrovsky had caused the mother and android son to bond closely over the last few weeks.
“I think I'll take a rain check on that refill,” James responded while glancing at his data net's monitor. James had rigged up a surveillance system to keep a check on the perimeter of the house in the off chance that a certain unwanted guest was to pay a visit. Joyce viewed this ingenuity as an innate quality of her late son.
“Why don't you take a break from your studies so we can watch a recorded transmission of a Fetellini play?” Joyce asked lovingly.
“I don't think I would be interested in that Mom,” James responded.
Joyce was caught off guard as the pair frequently took trips to New York City to watch the plays of the 23rd century playwright. “I don't understand, dear. You always loved Fetellini's stories.”
“By my estimates, that was an entirely different era in my evolution,” James argued. “I know longer attain a desire to spend my time frivolously, Mom.”
Joyce was taken aback not only by her son's rejection of her suggestion but with the language he had used with her. “Am I speaking with my son right now or a computer program?”
Joyce attempted to ease her concerns by asking James what he would prefer for dinner. She suggested they have steak and peppers as it had been her boy's favorite meal since he was five years old.
However, the boy's response again filled Joyce with shock and dismay. “I no longer seek to eat our fellow animals, Mom. Can I just have a dish of vegetables?”
“I have to speak to McElroy. Am I losing what I have left of my son to an artificial mind? And if this is happening to James, what will become of my beliefs and character in an android body?” Joyce asked herself.
For more excerpts please visit:
Web Site: garystarta.com
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