Mika Model • 2016 • SF short story by Paolo Bacigalupi


An A.I. fembot – the eponymous Mika Model – turns up at detective Rivera, asks for a lawyer and confesses murdering its owner.

The noir story was commissioned to point out how technology and science will change our lives. Bacigalupi has a history with robotic self-aware A.I.s, cf. his novel Windup Girl. Do such things deserve rights, human rights, can they considered to be murderers or would it be only a product safety failure? For SF, identity is not exactly a new topic and has been covered since Asimov’s I, Robot lots of times. But in the light of autonomous cars, industrial robots and evolving A.I. it can’t be brought up and popularized often enough. Netflix wants to produce it for streaming.

The police procedure part of the story was really terrible. Sure, the detective felt manipulated, but after all, the sexbot is evidence and at the same time dangerous, should have been arrested/secured immediately. Why doesn’t he call backup? And no one should be able to tamper with a crime scene. Also, the corporation’s manual handling of the robot seems very strange – anyone heard of remote maintenance?

If you’re into that topic, you might want to check out the Elizabeth Bear’s story Dolly.

Don’t miss the excellent discussion of a law professor to the question of murder/product liability.

It is a short and easy read but doesn’t bring up anything new if you’ve watched the movie Ex Machina, and there are a couple of logic issues in it.

Meta: GR. It is available online.

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