Story﹕A friend from outer space
【明報專訊】Before robots were invented, how would people react to such things? It is up to you whether you believe it or not, but there's a story only known by hearsay. It took place during a period in medieval Europe. There were a bunch of people living in a far-flung town in a Central European country. They never dreamt of being rich or else but only worked to earn a living.
Badaboom... Badaboom... Badaboom... One day, a roll of thunder boomed in the sky with a great bang. Something gigantic fell onto the ground. People were scared off but one guy called Duncan came to the place where the big thing plummeted. He saw something like a spaceship. The door opened and a great piece of human-like metal walked out of the spaceship.
Duncan was really curious and brought it back to the town. People called it "the metal man".
The metal man wasn't welcome in the town. It then tried to use its abilities to help the people. It has a needle-like thing on the top of its head. It helped clean up messes in the town. Its strong legs made it run fast. Its long hands helped people pick things beyond their reach.
A gangster (流氓) called Max saw all this and envied the metal man. He thought there should be something precious in the spaceship. He found the spaceship and climbed into it. He found a little box with some circles and squares on it.
"Oh I can't resist pressing those circles and squares. This is so much fun!"
He went back to the town and saw only chaos. The houses were torn apart... by the metal man! "Oh God, such a great thing to use!" Max continued pressing the keys randomly.
Boooooom! There were continuous explosions and collapse.
Suddenly the remote was broken. Max threw it away and there was no way to control the robot.
But it gave the robot a few minutes to clear its thought. It broke the receptor (接收器), the needle-like thing on its head. Then it found Duncan, the one who had discovered him.
"What was I doing! I'm supposed to help people!"
"Are there other ways to solve this?"
"I'm afraid not."
It flew up to the sky and went towards the ocean. It first tore down its left hand, then the legs, finally destroyed its head.
Duncan thought, "Was it a correct decision to bring the metal man to the town?"
◆Food for thought
Some people think Artificial Intelligence (人工智能) is dangerous. But if robots are designed to be rational, will they pose the same threat to humans? Discuss with your friends how to make better use of the technology.
hearsay (n) 傳言
far-flung (adj) 遙遠的
plummet (v) 墜落
continuous (adj) 持續的
[Smarties' Power English 第234期]