Professor John McCarthy
Father of AI


The Robot and the Baby

This is a science fiction story about what household robots might look like.

This is the first science fiction story I have put up for the public to look at. While it was written just as a story, it partly illustrates my opinions about what household robots should be like. In my article Making Robots Conscious of their Mental States, I argued that robots should not be programmed to have emotions or to behave so as to have emotion ascribed to them. Cindy Mason in her Emotional Machines Home Page expresses a different point of view.

The movie AI illustrates one disadvantage of having robots with emotions or which elicit human emotions. Unless you make them really human they will not fit into human society. Better just make them suitable as a kind of tool.

There is no more of the science of AI in the movie than there is in the Pinochio story of more than 100 years ago. One should also not take seriously any of the ideas of the movie of what robots might really be like.

Household robots are still several scientific discoveries away. Those who predict their arrival by some definite date are just speculating. The story also illustrates some mildly cynical opinions about how near future institutions might react to the events of the story.

Download the article in PDF.