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John McCarthy: The Robot and the Baby (stanford.edu)
234 points by bootload on Oct 24, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments

If you liked this story you may like _The Time of Eve_, which is a short animated Japanese science fiction series. It explores many of the same themes. I hadn't read this story before, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out the authors of the series had read it.

Viewable on CrunchyRoll, legally, for free:


There are six episodes of about 15 minutes each.

This is the first time I've come across the use of code as a meaningful narrative element in a work of fiction. It's not exactly Nabokov, but this is a pretty wonderful story. RIP, John.

Yes, when I came to the "R781 thought about the situation. Here are some of its thoughts, as printed later from its internal diary file," bit of the story at first I thought 'oh, clever.' By the end I was really moved.

I loved this story (very wry), but not enough to overcome my innate pedantry...

> As part of a 20 minute show, R781 clothes itself as it was at the time of its adventure with the baby and answers the visitors' questions

If not saving a life, would not any command to imitate a human be insufficient to overcome the prohibition against this? To do so just for the sake of a show is a weaker reason than those given in the text.

> Mothers sometimes like to have their pictures taken standing next to R781 with R781 holding their baby. After many requests, R781 was told to patch its program to allow this.

This suggests, to me at least, that there may have been other patches over the years. Certainly, nothing in the story precludes this.

I was sad to hear(see technically) that John McCarthy died, it was people like him that really got me into computers. The idea that we can use clever programming and modern hardware to make up for what we lack, math for instance is done nearly instantly with zero's and one's. It was people like him that helped start that ball rolling.

A great read that should be shared with everyone. RIP John.

Great story, very funny I thought. Feels like it could be a precursor to the short story Nanny by Philip K Dick (http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=722).

That was a very enjoyable read. Thank you!

They still have Bank Of America then... Don't show this to the people from Occupy Wall Street, they'll be disappointed.

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