Machines like me and people like you

Tension between the logically tuned humanoid and the emotionally motivated human

Mid-eighties in Britain. Historical events take alternate turns and persons that actually died, have survived in this in reality. Technical development is very advanced and 25 AI robots – aptly called Adams and Eves -  emerge on the market for well-to-do customers to buy. One of them is Charlie Friend, who, though otherwise not well off, invests his inheritance into one of the humanoids. Adam comes to play a big role in Charlie’s life both regarding his livelihood (selling and buying shares on his computer from home) and in his relationship with his neighbour Miranda. Apart from the factory settings – Adam’s personality is partly programmed by Charlie and partly by Miranda. It soon becomes clear that the good looking, well read and morally consistent Adam will have a profound effect on their everyday life. How do you compete with a robot for a woman’s affection? Can you override settings in the humanoid that you yourself have put there to begin with? These are some of the quandaries that Charlie Friend is faced with in Ian McEwan’s dystopian novel. The novel raises several interesting questions: What traits are human? How can a robot deal with the inconsistencies of human (a)morality with white lies and situational judgement? Can a humanoid be more human than a human being? The tension between the logically tuned humanoid and the emotionally motivated human is nicely described in McEwan’s novel.