Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won’t belittle her musical aspirations.
Q-I-99 aka ‘Quinn’ lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.
Tyri and Quinn’s worlds collide when they’re accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn’s love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?
Now on to the post! I asked Suzanne...Why androids? And why make them so human?
At university I was able to take a minor in philosophy. This introduced me to ontological and existential schools of thought. I was immediately captivated by the search for self, the search for meaning, and for understanding the world, especially our place in it. The ideas examined by philosophers such as Kant and Heidegger, Locke and Schopenhauer fascinated me and made me examine my own perspective on what 'being' means. It was through ontology and existentialism that the concept of artificial intelligence captured my imagination. What is it that makes us uniquely human? Can we replicate that and what happens if or when we do? At what point does a machine become human?
Almost all of my novels incorporate snippets of philosophy in them as I often use my writing as not merely catharsis but as a way to work out my own thoughts and feelings on several philosophical topics. I Heart Robot afforded me the opportunity to further explore the ideas of self and being by creating androids that were very human, and, in some ways, even more human than the people in the story. But what does that even mean, to create a machine 'more human' than a real life person?
This is why I wanted to write about androids and make them as human as possible. I think in real life our obsession with technology and our need to humanize everything from our cars to our houseplants – I'm not the only one who names houseplants, am I? - will eventually lead to the creation of highly sophisticated artificial intelligence. In my story, we're already there and the androids, like Quinn, challenge society's understanding of what it means to be human, especially from a theological and philosophical point of view.
Given the current political climate regarding LGBT and women's rights world wide, I also wanted to write a story about tolerance and acceptance, about civil rights and segregation that went beyond current issues. If we're still struggling to grant basic rights to groups of human beings, then how will we cope with the idea of granting rights to machines who present as human but are arguably not human? I don't pretend to know the answer to this question, but it is one I wanted to and hope I managed to explore in my writing.
What do you think about artificial intelligence? Do you think androids will one day deserve 'human' rights?
Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.
Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen (INT)