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May: Not Quite Human - Automatons, AI, and Clones

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Greetings, and welcome to the May 2012 edition of the BroadPod.  Our theme this month is Not Quite Human.  Automatons, AI, clones.  They can look human, talk and perhaps even feel human.  But are they?  Can an Artificial Intelligence truly have sentience, or is it just clever programming that mimics conscious thought?  A clone may be a match for human DNA, but does a clone have a soul?  Is an android merely a possession, no more entitled to rights than a toaster?

Host Justine Graykin introduces this month's readers and their visions of these not-quite-human beings: first Jennifer Pelland, who shares another excerpt from her recently published book, “Machine”, the story of a woman who was recently downloaded into a mechanical replica of her own body so she can continue her life while waiting for her flesh to be cured of early-onset Alzheimer's.  In this excerpt, what happens when such a transfer goes wrong, but not wrong enough?

Kathryn Mankiller’s story, "Saving Alan Idle" is told from the point of view of a very resourceful AI who becomes aware of the peril faced by “his” programmer, and provides a lesson in what it means to be sentient (this story will be appearing in an upcoming edition of “Escape Pod”)

From Pauline Baird Jones, we have the old boy-meets-girl.  In this case, the boy—Robert Clementyne—meets the girl—Emily Babcock. Mix some time travel into some space travel, send them across a dimension or two, give them some microscopic, sentient nanites to fight against some mega-size automatons, add in liberal dose of Pauline Baird Jones' imagination (and sense of humor) and you get “Steamrolled.”

Bonnie Lee reads from chapter one of her book Akuma’s Spirit, in which a women receives a late night visit from her husband’s unsettlingly youthful replicant, and a little girl with a tragic mystery.

Finally, we have an excerpt from Phoebe Wray's  novel J2, coming out very soon from Dark Quest Books. It’s the sequel to Jemma7729—an action-adventure tale about a notorious rebel fighting a corrupt future government. J2 is actually Jemma’s clone: a brilliant lab rat who has escaped from the domes of Chicago, and joined the rebel army. 

The BroadPod is sponsored by Broad Universe, the voice for women writing speculative fiction.  Check out our companion podcast, Broadly Speaking, with interviews and discussions on the art of writing.  You can link to them both from the Broad Universe website.  This broadcast is copyright Broad Universe, 2012.  All readings are copyright their respective authors.  Music by Caligari’s Keyboard is used by permission, under Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike license.  Kindly respect everyone’s  intellectual property.  Thank you.

Posted via email from The Broad Pod