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Author Topic: EP354: The Caretaker  (Read 10219 times)

Unblinking

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Reply #25 on: July 30, 2012, 03:01:49 PM
...I sometimes muse that we could secretly just go back to the old system which is very very reliable (but expensive).  Interesting how this story took that kind of idea, gruntwork masquerading as advanced technology, and made it into a story.  :)
The old system isn't more expensive. It costs far less to have a live-in caretaker than it does to put someone in a nursing home. The difference is that every other time someone dies now, the family sues the caretaker -- because it must be negligence, not the fact that Grandpa was 104 years old -- so caretakers can't afford the insurance. So instead, we all pay for it with our taxes.

When I referred to the "old system" in that sentence, I was referring to traffic technology.  That is, selling an "automated" traffic camera that would actually consist of a guy with a comm link pressing a button when cars are present.  If we could do that selectively only when we were doing an acceptance test, I guarantee we would pass.

When I was making the comparison between old methods and new methods, I was not at all comparing live-in caretakers with nursing homes (not sure where I implied that).  But I would expect that paying a caretaker a fair wage for decades would cost more in the long run than a consumer-product caretaker AI which would be a one-time cost.  Granted, presumably the third-world labor will not receive a fair wage, but the company still has to pay them some kind of periodic wage where providing a single standalone product would have only upfront costs to them.




Gamercow

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Reply #26 on: July 30, 2012, 08:36:06 PM
I liked this one, and was quite frankly chilled at the prospect that this could be a possible future.  Anti-immigration folks get their way, but corporations also get their way by getting cheap labor.  I'm going to stop here, before I go overboard, but I found the speculated near future both possible and very well written.  At the same time, I found the MC to be believable as well, coming to terms with his disability and new situation. 
Finally, strokes do happen at any age.  I work with 2 people that have had strokes in their 40s, and my father in law passed away from a stroke and complications when he was 60.

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jwbjerk

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Reply #27 on: August 03, 2012, 03:48:10 PM
I didn't pick up on the hints that Sandy was human-controlled very quickly-- i just assumed the unrealistically advanced and human-like AI that much sci-fi has was at work here.

Once i did get it, i assumed that all that was left of Manuela would be a brain in a jar, or some matrix-type plugged-in horror.  I wonder if that was because of the author's restraint, or lack of dementedness...



Swamp

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Reply #28 on: August 03, 2012, 03:53:02 PM
I really enjoyed this story.  Great emotional connection, fun sci-fi concepts, and even a little social commentary thrown in there.  Nice.

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eytanz

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Reply #29 on: August 17, 2012, 06:31:27 AM
Moderator note: I've split out the discussion of automated traffic light control systems to its own thread.



flippertie

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Reply #30 on: August 19, 2012, 04:57:59 PM
I had a very different take on the plot twist.

After the exposition at the beginning of the story about how the AI caretaker is designed and programmed to elicit an emotional response from the patient my thought through the story was that the hesitation etc were just clever programming. The apparent interest in plants and scenery was to encourage the patient to 'wake up and smell the flowers ' and so forth. 

The device of introducing a 'human' operator I took to be just one more sneaky level of psychological manipulation.  Convince skeptical Grandpa that there's a real person inside, and he'll *really* relate to the machine...   

Probably not the authors intent - but that's what I took away from the story...



eytanz

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Reply #31 on: August 19, 2012, 10:36:39 PM
Hey, cool. That is a nice alternate reading. I have to admit it never occurred to me, and I'd have to listen to the story again before I can decide whether or not it works for me, but it's a very interesting take.



Unblinking

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Reply #32 on: August 20, 2012, 02:51:40 PM
That is an interesting idea, which hadn't occurred to me.  Cool!

I suspect that's not what the author intended, given the stuff about the rotating images security device, but that doesn't mean it can't be plausible!



hardware

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Reply #33 on: October 17, 2012, 08:20:06 PM
I liked this one. As several has pointed out, this was basically a Resnick story, but done in a way that I could appreciate more (i.e less sugar and violins). I like the way it comments on immigration, outsourcing and how we let technology replace human interaction without that I felt too much preached to. Although entirely logically possible, I choose not to buy into the alternative interpretation of the twist presented by flippertie, not because it is not possible, but because it would turn the story into something very cynical, and I didn't get the feeling that was what Liu was after. 



FlatPepsi

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Reply #34 on: January 15, 2013, 05:46:15 PM
Mr. Church's angry, bitter view is what made the story for me.  It made him a real person, in ways that Resnick's last story failed to do.  Really, this story is what "The Homecoming" (EP344) should have been.

The reveal confirmed what I suspected about our hero - his mind was as sharp as ever, it's just that his body wasn't.  Hence the bitterness.

As for the "hints" at the reveal, I thought the story was going into a "who's taking care of who?" angle.  Maybe the Senior Care gig was just a way to get AI's into the real world, for wide-scale hands-on training.  Then soon... soon... those AI's would take over, Colossus style.

I liked my ending better.



robertmarkbram

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Reply #35 on: July 01, 2014, 10:53:32 PM
I was really enjoying this story up until the big reveal around the 26 minute mark.

I do also wonder how viable the "scam" is.  Seriously?  The workers get zero time off and never leave work because if they did wouldn't a lot more customers notice that things their robot knew yesterday they didn't know today even as simple as the normal routine.  I can't realistically believe this scam working for long although disenfranchised elderly are less likely to be believed than someone younger.

Then my reaction turned into a deep, abiding, visceral horror. This is virtual slavery: no breaks, no time off.. They are locked to a terminal 24/7. What, these young people will never leave until the person they care for dies?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 11:00:10 PM by robertmarkbram »