What happens when you add “Artificial”

ENGL 4110 “Commonplace Book” Entry 9

Speculative fiction and science fiction have always been heavily intertwined with the idea of “artificial intelligence.” Robots, virtual assistants, or androids, their intelligence is not just intelligence — the “artificial” bit insinuates that this type of ability is less-than due to its manmade status.

So, when reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, the term “Artificial Friend” stuck out to me.

In the novel, Klara is a special type of robot called an Artificial Friend, or AF for short, designed specifically to act as companions to children during their formative years. Klara is also the narrator of the story, though, and the reader may realize that her internal dialogue is quite intelligent — which is to say, humanlike. She may be a robot, but she’s pretty darn smart. She also seems to experience genuine emotions, including love and empathy, towards those she feels closest with.

It seems rather, well, un-artificial.

So I wonder why Ishiguro decided to include the ‘A’ part of AF — to remind everyone that they’re robots at the end of the day?

Maybe, it’s to remind the reader that just because some things are artificial doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

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