Robots have long been a favorite of fans all across Asia. Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro was not considered successful at the box office in the United States, yet it became de Toro’s most commercially successful film to date earning a worldwide total of more than $411 million—$114 million in China alone. In the young adult genre we have been seeing an increase of all sorts of artificial intelligence in the sci-fi sub-genre.
What is the allure? As we plunge into the future robotics technology is becoming more and more integrated into our society, from self-driving cars to robotic pets. This is a fascinating way to explore our humanity and what it means to have compassion, feel love and experience sacrifice. By the same turn we can juxtaposition what it means to have unlimited power, intelligence and authority. This is a gold mine for stories and we’ve had some really great examples…
Cyborgs - Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder is 36.28% augments of mechanical means from an accident when she was young. Her brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. When her stepmother sells Cinder for plague research she learns a mother load of secrets about herself plus meets Prince Kai who doesn’t look at her the same way as most 100% humans.
Applicable now… Can you imagine if we can fix failing hearts, augment brains or other wise repair organic parts of our body with synthetic? This is the holy grail of modern medicine, a lot of research is done every year to try to make advances.
Androids - Partials by Dan Wells
A war with engineered organic beings, called Partials, identical to humans except for the weaponized virus they carry, has almost extinguished humanity. Now the last tens of thousands of immune humans fight a losing battle to lift population levels as their newborns are not born with the immunity. Kira is on a deadline to save her friend’s child and sets out to find a Partial to study. She finds Samm, but will she find her answers?
Applicable now… There is a faction of scientists who feel there are many applications for robots with the organic appearance of a human. And the Japanese economy is in desperate need of viable workforce, but are androids the answer?
Robots - The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
In this middle grade story, Roz opens her eyes to find herself tied into a box with the shattered remains of other robots. She is the only survivor on an island in the sea. While not built for the outdoors she learns the language of the forest animals, but is rebuffed harshly. When she accidentally orphans a gosling, together they become valuable members of the forest. Then when Roz has to face her mysterious past her gosling and new friends come to her aid.
Applicable now… Almost all military organizations use the help of military robots to carry out many risky jobs that cannot be handled manually by soldier, liked dealing with bombs and handling aircraft carrier fires.
Drones - Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Essie fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines in sub-zero temperatures. A mysterious man, Dane, crashes near her home and she offers to repair his ship. Unknown to her he will pull her back into a war that she gave everything to avoid as Princess Snow… with her drones to back her up she’s wade back into the fight!
Applicable now… Amazon is testing drones that could deliver packages in as little as half an hour after an online purchase. They can also be used in hurricane hunting, charging into the heart of a storm without risking human life and limb. Precision application of pesticides, water, or fertilizers in agriculture can be identified and delivered by drones in hard to reach locations.
Supercomputer AI - Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
noun. 1. the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
Kady and Ezra live at the edge of the known world (which is more advanced and is no longer limited to our galaxy) in 2575 on a secret mining planet. They broke up that morning not realizing that a few hours later two rival megacorporations would go to war in the space above their heads. The fleet that helped the miners and their families to escape is evacuating, their ship’s AI supercomputer mind, AIDEN, is damaged with the after effects of a biological weapon to deal with and an enemy warship chasing them down.
Applicable now… Supercomputers today are capable of performing incredible feats, from accurately predicting the weather to uncovering insights into climate change, as well as other pattern recognition and sensory processing tasks.
Artificial Intelligence is not going away anytime soon. More and more applications are being sought out and applied. And robots, androids, cyborgs, drones and AI supercomputers are all fun and thoughtful additions to sci-fi and dystopian world building in the young adult genre!
Is there a book that has you favorite artificial intelligence that I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!