Annie Bot by Sierra Greer: power, freedom and AI

Annie Bot by Sierra Greer: power, freedom and AI.  Annie Bot is a first person account by an android that is sentient and how it is to pass as human.

Annie Bot by Sierra Greer: power, freedom and AI.  Annie Bot is a first person account by an artificial adult life form that is sentient and how, with it being life like enough to pass as human, it lives like a modern slave.  It is a a mildly dark and small world view on the motivations of men and their needs.

This short novel is narrated by the bot and attempts to engage in a philosophical debate about the ability of an android to learn to be as near as normal human being.  The prose is light and the questions it asks are sometimes more about the behaviour of humans than role of robots in human life.

There are similarities in this novel to Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.   In my review “as a first person account it presents one view of how an AI is closer than we think to our own souls or a conscious mind.” Klara and the Sun explored the use of a android robot to replace a family member.  Whilst the latter was a tame affair largely devoid of jeopardy, Annie Bot is a somewhat different proposition.

The problem with robots in these scenarios narrating their own story is that it can sometimes be overly descriptive.  In this scenario we are presented with an android with an artificial intelligence that is still learning.  Whilst this is intrinsic to the plot it can sometimes read like a child learning social etiquette – and dull to read.

Interestingly, Greer proposes that the bots would be available in either domestic maid or adult sex mode.  What appears to be missing is both a general bot and a male bot – there is one reference stating they do exist from a ‘Borgo’ document.  This novel short cuts to a feminist take on men using android technology for sexual pleasure and in a way that the bot appears to be no more than a slave.  Technology inevitably follows the money so the premise is not only self evident but already in the making.  So what does this novel offer to the debate?

The plot focuses on a man who seeks to have a female bot to replace his ex-wife but not in the fullest sense of the meaning.  The feminist angle to this is, firstly, it is a partner mainly for sex. What about having a soul partner?  Secondly, the man purchases a second bot as a maid. What about one bot for as a full partner?

The bot is coded to understand human feelings.  The model “Stella” – this particular one is named Annie – is both so lifelike and intelligent through its learning that the company Stella-Handy purchase the “CIU” from the owner to sell it in a new model. As it is a “cuddle bunny” (sex) version this implies the profit is in a virtual sex doll. 

A philosophical angle presented is how the bot is manipulated by the man’s friend into secretly having sex with him and then lying about it.  How human is the AI?  It appears this AI is coded to obey only and not question the human’s controlling behaviour.  . However, she has also been set to “autodidactic” mode, which gives her a inquisitive intellect. This inevitably conflicts with the human’s controlling behaviour and she run away with the maid bot. 

The bot is captured and punished by her owner by having her libido ramped up to max so she is in pain when denied sex, and imprisoned in a broom cupboard.  Undoubtedly, this raises questions about how humans in this scenario would abuse their power over the android without society being intervening.

This is a rather narrow cynical take on the application of emerging technology in to real life.  it offers a mildly dark and small world view on the motivations of men and their sexual needs.  None of the proposition is questionable or unlikely; just a fact of life, as is robots and AI to replace humans in their jobs, the development of androids for women’s needs, for military purposes and so on – these are all other novels waiting to be written.

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