Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine 1957 Banner

My evening reading currently is The Complete Robot by Isaac Asimov. This week, I came to the short story Galley Slave and was struck by how applicable and predictive Isaac’s words were from 1957. Read these excerpts and think of ChatGPT, Bard, and other Generative AI and the concerns people are having with copyright, originality, and creativity.

The Complete Robot by Isaac Asimov book cover

…He said, “For two hundred and fifty years, the machine has been replacing Man and destroying the handcraftsman. Pottery is spewed out of molds and presses. Works of art have been replaced by identical gimcracks stamped out on a die. Call it progress, if you wish! The artist is restricted to abstractions, confined to the world of ideas. He must design something in mind – and then the machine does the rest.

…”So does a typewriter. So does a printing press. Do you propose to return to the hand illumination of manuscripts?”

“Typewriters and printing presses take away some, but your robot would deprive us of all. Your robot takes over the galleys. Soon it, or other robots, would take over the original writing, the searching of the sources, the checking and crosschecking of passages, perhaps even the deduction of conclusions. What would that leave the scholar? One thing only, the barren decisions concerning what orders to give the robot next!”

Galley Slave by Isaac Asimov

So many of Asimov’s books predicted technologies growth and impact on society. I know many publishers, authors, and artists who are struggling with generative AI currently. What do you think? Was Asimov accurate?

Isaac Asimov predicted Generative AI?

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One thought on “Isaac Asimov predicted Generative AI?

  1. I came across your post because I was looking for exactly this magazine cover for my lecture tonight. My team discovered and published the “indirect prompt injection” vulnerability in Large Language Models in February this year. And – being one of the biggest Asimov nerds alive – I find it truely beautiful that he predicted exactly this exploit, years before I was born.
    And I appreciate that I am not the only one seeing this obvious reference between Galley Slave and GPT. Thanks for sharing.

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