Literature: But Whether Men Do
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do."But Whether Men Do is a science fiction novel set Twenty Minutes into the Future by first-time author R. Anthony Mahan. The story focuses on the creation and integration of incredibly humanlike robots — SHEMs, short for Synthetic Humanoid Emulation Machines — into society and examines society's willingness (or unwillingness) to accept them. Created by the genius Dr. Danson, SHEMs are meant to improve the lives of humans and serve them; they are programmed to feel joy in performing their assigned task and to feel pain if they disobey. To prevent any sort of robotic uprising, Danson ingrained a code of ethics into every SHEM produced, so that they may never harm a human being, even if ordered to do so.
This novel provides examples of:
- The Atoner: Danson's motivation for creating the SHEMs.
- Brain Uploading: Danson, and later Haley.
- Child Prodigy: Mankins.
- Do Androids Dream?: A large portion of the book is based around this premise.
- Genki Girl: Alice at times.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The SHEMs end up being the victim of too much mistreatment to count.
- Jerk Ass: Danny's second baby sitter, who struck him and put him into a closet when he asked for food. Also, Danson and Mankins have bits of this.
- Just a Machine: Invoked by many of the characters to justify their actions.
- Significant Name: The SHEMs.
- Spider Scientist Zombie Robot: The resurrected Dr. Danson spends some time in the body of a robot spider.
- Replacement Goldfish: Mankins creates a SHEM as one of these for his daughter, Haley.
- Ridiculously Human Robots
- Robot Girl: Many, but notably Betty.
- Shout-Out: Officers Powell and Donovan.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The whole premise of the story.
- Zeerust: Using needles to etch the programming into the chips instead of, say, a focused ion beam or something equally capable of atomic-level etching.