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I, Row-Boat, Part 01

Here's the first installment in a new story podcast. This time, it's "I, Row-Boat," a story I just finished about a story about a theological dispute between an artifically intelligent Asimov three-laws cultist and an uplifted coral reef.. I'm going to read this one in three or four parts over the next couple weeks.

Robbie the Row-Boat's great crisis of faith came when the coral reef woke up.

"Fuck off," the reef said, vibrating Robbie's hull through the slap-slap of the waves of the coral sea, where he'd plied his trade for decades. "Seriously. This is our patch, and you're not welcome."

Robbie shipped oars and let the current rock him back toward the ship. He'd never met a sentient reef before, but he wasn't surprised to see that Osprey Reef was the first to wake up. There'd been a lot of electromagnetic activity around there the last few times the big ship had steamed through the night to moor up here.

MP3


12 Responses to “I, Row-Boat, Part 01”

  1. Jeff says:

    Don't know if you know this, Cory, but several years ago -- 7-29-1998 -- The Onion published an I. Robot parody called I. Rowboat. (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33568). Just an FYI...

  2. CZ says:

    Cory,
    Not to rain on your parade or anything but I thought I should point out that the Onion ran a story by the same title back in 1998.

    The story can be found here:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33568

    And here is a brief excerpt:

    "1. A Rowboat may not immerse a human being or, through lack of flotation, allow a human to come to harm.

    2. A Rowboat must obey all commands and steering input given by its human Rower, except where such input would conflict with the First Law.

    3. A Rowboat must preserve its own flotation as long as such preservation does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    These three laws were clearly stated in The Handbook Of Rowboatics, 16th edition, 1958 printing, the laws of my youth. They have remained unchanged since that day. A Rowboat has but one purpose: To float! That is the one Truth: Remain afloat! "

  3. [...] If you would prefer to have your aquatic fiction read to you, check out Cory Doctorow’s new story podcast, I, Rowboat. It is a “a story about a theological dispute between an artifically intelligent Asimov three-laws cultist and an uplifted coral reef.” Robbie the Row-Boat’s great crisis of faith came when the coral reef woke up. [...]

  4. [...] Podcast: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 [...]

  5. [...] I listened to Cory Doctorow’s reading of his story “I, Row-boat” a few weeks ago through his podcast and really enjoyed it. It seems it has just gotten a larger audience with a recent publication on Rudy Rucker’s awesome new online sf magazine, Flurb. “I, Row-Boat” is a riff on Cory’s Hugo-nominated story I, Robot, and it concerns the theological wars between an Asimov-cultist AI boat and an uplifted coral-reef. I really enjoyed the way the reef was portrayed. The colonistic multi-organism thinking collectively as one, as if they were the Borg. This portrayal is opposed to the naive and very idealistic Robby the Row-Boat really makes the story an entertaining read (or, in my case, listen). Check out the podcast of the story below. Podcast: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 [...]

  6. [...] Podcast: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 [...]

  7. [...] Machines are generally designed with a specific function in mind, such as performing calculations, receiving input of various kinds, shredding paper, or making toast. Obviously, an intelligent toaster would have a radically different set of values from your average human being. Cory Doctorow has a great short story called "I, Row-Boat" that illustrates how ridiculous this concept is. A toaster would be concerned with learning how to make toast that pleases the being that it's being made for. It would start with a rough set of inputs, such as being told to make "light" or "dark" toast. From the first slice onward, it would learn from further input if it's making toast properly. It would also have certain inputs that describe things which might affect its ability to make toast, such as proper functioning of the burners, and how full the crumb tray is. This is, of course, just a silly example. [...]

  8. [...] Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com >> Blog Archive ” I, Row-Boat, Part 01 This time, it’s “I, Row-Boat,” a story I just finished about a story about a … and very idealistic Robby the Row-Boat really makes the story an entertaining … [...]

  9. [...] Cory Doctorow s craphound.com >> Blog Archive I, Row-Boat News I, Row-Boat, Part 01. Here s the first installment in a new story podcast. This time, it s I, Row-Boat, a story I just finished about a story about a theological dispute between an [...]

  10. [...] Cory Doctorow s craphound.com >> Blog Archive I, Row-Boat Rowboat. (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33568). Just an FYI CZ Says: June 21st, 2006 at 12:52 pm. Cory, Not to rain on your parade or anything but I thought I should point out that the [...]

  11. [...] Cory Doctorow s craphound.com >> Blog Archive I, Row-Boat News I, Row-Boat, Part 01. Here s the first installment in a new story podcast. This time, it s I, Row-Boat, a story I just finished about a story about a theological [...]

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