Feet of Clay Discussion **Spoilers**

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Feet of Clay Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:34 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Feet of Clay in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1996

Image

I want to thank ChristianBecker for writing the introduction for this discussion. :D

ChristianBecker wrote:
Feet of Clay is the third Discworld book to prominently feature the City Watch - which we have seen becoming more and more of a serious police force instead of a bunch of half-criminals rather running away from the scene of a crime than helping.

A murder (or as it turns out, two) has happened in Ankh-Morpork. Of course, this is nothing new in this city. The circumstances, however, are rather strange.
One victim is an old priest - neatly arranged after his quite brutal death, his office tidied up, and a rolled up piece of paper in his mouth - covered in cryptic signs.
The other is the (human) director of the Dwarf Bread Museum - his skull crushed in by a vicious battle bread.
As if these two murders were not enough, someone is also poisoning the Patrician, yet no one knows how (or for that matter, who).
And what to make of Nobby Nobs, who turns out to be a real Nob - the Earl of Ankh even?
It also seems like the Golem community of Ankh-Morpork is growing restive and is planning something - while people are out buying sledge hammers.
And in the middle of it all there's Vimes (who's not going to get a coat of arms), trying to solve this riddle wrapped inside a puzzle inside an enema.


------------------------------------
I really enjoyed reading this book. In many ways this is an homage to whodunits and police procedurals. It always strikes me that this is not only about slavery but also Pratchett’s nod to Isaac Asimov. The Watch is growing and we get to meet so favourite characters for the first time.

But what did you think?
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Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Eric)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:42 am

Is Dorfl a "he" or an "it"? :?
In other words, is Dorfl a freed slave or an artificially intelligent robot? :?

Judging by all the references to Terminator and Robocop, it would seem logical to assume that Dorfl's the latter. 8)

Annotated Pratchett wrote: [p. 222] "'I thought the damn thing smashed up...' [...] 'Well, it's putting itself together.'"
The monster breaking into pieces and then reassembling itself is probably best known from Terminator 2, but there are earlier references. In The Iron Man by Ted Hughes (1968) the iron man/robot falls over the edge of a cliff and breaks into many pieces. The fingers put the hands together then they pick up an eye and start putting the rest of the body together.

[p. 258] "He landed on the king's back, flung one arm around its neck, and began to pound on its head with the hilt of his sword. It staggered and tried to reach up to pull him off."
In Robocop 2, our hero (Robo) jumped on the back of the 'Robocop 2' and tried to open its head.

[p. 260] "'They gave their own golem too many, I can see that."
The way the king golem is driven mad by the number of rules in its head reminded many people of a scene in Robocop 2, where Robocop is rendered useless by programming with several, partly conflicting rules. This slightly tenuous connection is reinforced by several further similarities between Dorfl and Robocop.
Never mind Robocop, however: one correspondent has posited that the entire candle factory sequence is a clever amalgam of the endings to both Terminator movies. I will let him explain this to you in his own words -- I couldn't bring myself to paraphrase or edit it down:
"The candle factory itself, with all the candle production lines is reminiscent of the robotics in the automated factory that Reese activates to confuse the Terminator. Throughout the candle factory scene, Carrot is Reese, Angua is Sarah Connor, the king switches between the original T-800 when fighting Carrot and the T-1000 from T2 when fighting Dorfl, who is the 'good' Terminator from T2.
Carrot is shot early on and has to be dragged around initially by Angua, much like the injured Reese has to be supported by Sarah. The following fight between Dorfl and the king is similar to the big T2 confrontation between the two Terminators, in which one of the combatants is able to 'repair' himself and thus has an advantage. When Dorfl is 'killed', his red eyes fade out just like a T-800s, but he is later able to come back to life. The T-800 achieves this by rerouting power through undamaged circuitry; Dorfl does it by getting the words from elsewhere (heart as opposed to head).
In T1, Reese finds a metal bar and tries to fight an opponent he can't possibly beat -- exactly as Carrot does. When Angua finds herself facing the injured king, it is similar to the scene in T1 after Reese's death, when the torso of the Terminator pulls itself along after the injured Sarah, grabbing at her legs (which the king also does to Angua). Then, Detritus' shot at the king, which has no effect, is like Sarah's last stand against the T-1000, when she runs out of ammo just at the crucial point. When it appears that the seemingly invincible king has survived everything and is about to finish the job and kill Carrot, the thought-to-be-dead Dorfl makes a last-gasp interjection which finally kills the king -- much like the resurrected Arnie appears just in time to kill the T-1000 in T2. Oh, and finally, the molten tallow that Cheery almost falls into is, of course, the molten metal at the end of T2."

[p. 272] "'Undead Or Alive, You Are Coming With Me!'"
Another echo of Robocop.

[p. 280] "'To Serve The Public Trust, Protect The Innocent, And Seriously Prod Buttock.'"
The first two of these were also the first two of Robocop's prime directives.

[p. 285] "'Somewhere, A Crime Is Happening,' said Dorfl."
Another Robocop line.


And wikipedia goes on to state that;
Wiki wrote:
Golems in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series are derived from golems in Jewish mythology; early forms of a clay robot, supposedly awakened by a spell or priestly words to do people's bidding.
Pratchett's golems emphasise the similarity between golems and robots, especially Asimovian robots. Their "Chem" (the magic writing in their heads) restricts their behaviour, and is described in similar terms to the Three Laws of Robotics, except that the Chem powers the golem, as well as programming it. However, the Three Laws are considered fundamental to a robot's construction and cannot be changed: by contrast a golem's Chem is in full control of its behaviour. Thus, as Moist von Lipwig discovers, the First Law of Pump 19 (Mr Pump) begins as normal, "A golem cannot harm a human being, nor through inaction allow a human being to come to harm", but has as an addendum '... Unless Ordered To Do So By Duly Constituted Authority."


So Dorfl is merely an AI robot like Asimov's Bicentenial Man.
So should it be allowed to have the rights afforded every other living creature? :?

Which leads us on to Roundworld. If robots are ever made with AI, should they be classed as equal to humans? :?
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:57 am

Golems seem to be 'property' - they are owned and do as they are told. This is a form of slavery as they are seen as non-people. The idea at the end, of the golems working and earning so that they can buy other golems out of bondage seems to me to be very much about slavery.

But the idea that the golems are (as is mentioned several times in the book) machines who have to obey their programming in the form of their chems, sounds very much like robots.

It's the case of when does an artificial intelligence become a sentient being? There's an episode of Star Trek - The Next Generation where Data has to prove in front of a tribunal, that he is more than a machine or he'll be treated as the property of Star Fleet rather than an intelligent individual who is essentially alive. That reminds me of some of the issues dealt with in FoC. :)
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:22 am

The problem with Dorfl is that he is a robot but WITHOUT the Laws of robotics to moderate his behaviour. He is already partly responsible for the deaths of two humans.

Free golems are a danger to society. :twisted:

I say smash the lot of 'em before it's too late. :P
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Postby Willem » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:25 am

poohcarrot wrote:So Dorfl is merely an AI robot like Asimov's Bicentenial Man.
So should it be allowed to have the rights afforded every other living creature? :?

Which leads us on to Roundworld. If robots are ever made with AI, should they be classed as equal to humans? :?


Hold on, why 'merely'? I'd say creating something like a functional AI robot is quite an achievement!
There is, of course, loads of Sci-fi stuff that deals with the issue, not just Star Trek. In Sci-fi it's usually a metaphor for the human condition - the way we treat these intelligent beings because they are different (in this case, artificial) say a lot about us. Luckily we haven't advanced that far yet in AI.

If a cow was tied to one railway track and an artificial intelligence that is capable of reasoning and moral decisions on another, and I was at the switch with a train coming in, I'd choose to kill the cow myself. But that might be for the barbecue we'd have afterwards.
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Postby Willem » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:27 am

poohcarrot wrote:The problem with Dorfl is that he is a robot but WITHOUT the Laws of robotics to moderate his behaviour.

[some cuts]

I say smash the lot of 'em before it's too late. :P


Kill all humans too while we're at it! Their behaviour's even worse on the whole!
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:30 am

Tonyblack wrote:Golems seem to be 'property' - they are owned and do as they are told. This is a form of slavery as they are seen as non-people. The idea at the end, of the golems working and earning so that they can buy other golems out of bondage seems to me to be very much about slavery.

But the idea that the golems are (as is mentioned several times in the book) machines who have to obey their programming in the form of their chems, sounds very much like robots.

It's the case of when does an artificial intelligence become a sentient being? There's an episode of Star Trek - The Next Generation where Data has to prove in front of a tribunal, that he is more than a machine or he'll be treated as the property of Star Fleet rather than an intelligent individual who is essentially alive. That reminds me of some of the issues dealt with in FoC. :)

Tony, I could have written that - I was about to in fact :lol:

An AI machine shouldn't be treated like a human being unless it is self-aware. At this point it becomes alive. Which pronoun to use is up to the individual - gender awareness isn't exactly the same as self-awareness, and might never become an issue. It usually isn't, except in Bicentennial Man.

Not all slave trades are about the presumed inferiority as a species of the slaves, some are just about money. But the one in this book is. We see how opinion is divided on this issue, and we are allowed to decide for ourselves if the golems are just machines and therefore can't be killed. But in later books where golems are free, such as GP, golems are definitely alive.

However, as much as the golems want to be free, what they mostly feel in this book is shame. It's shame that makes them commit suicide, not slavery. Dorfl deals with his shame, then is able to be free.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:32 am

Willem wrote:
poohcarrot wrote:So Dorfl is merely an AI robot like Asimov's Bicentenial Man.
So should it be allowed to have the rights afforded every other living creature? :?

Which leads us on to Roundworld. If robots are ever made with AI, should they be classed as equal to humans? :?


Hold on, why 'merely'? I'd say creating something like a functional AI robot is quite an achievement!
There is, of course, loads of Sci-fi stuff that deals with the issue, not just Star Trek. In Sci-fi it's usually a metaphor for the human condition - the way we treat these intelligent beings because they are different (in this case, artificial) say a lot about us. Luckily we haven't advanced that far yet in AI.

If a cow was tied to one railway track and an artificial intelligence that is capable of reasoning and moral decisions on another, and I was at the switch with a train coming in, I'd choose to kill the cow myself. But that might be for the barbecue we'd have afterwards.

But a cow is the property of somebody and you're mathematically calculating the cost of one piece of property with another, so obviously you'd kill the cow. :roll:

What if there was an AI robot tied to one track and a boy tied to the other? :?
Are machines, even if intelligent, equal to humans? :?
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:36 am

Why is anyone tied to a railway track? :? If it's one life for another, you choose to save the child, always. But it's a situation that rarely arises. And if the AI is made with the three laws, he she or it would want you to save the boy.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:39 am

Willem wrote:
poohcarrot wrote:The problem with Dorfl is that he is a robot but WITHOUT the Laws of robotics to moderate his behaviour.

[some cuts]

I say smash the lot of 'em before it's too late. :P


Kill all humans too while we're at it! Their behaviour's even worse on the whole!

But if you start creating AI robots, sooner or later they'll come to the "Terminator" decision and try to extinguish mankind, because as you say, human behaviour is appalling. :P
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:45 am

Dotsie wrote:Why is anyone tied to a railway track? :? If it's one life for another, you choose to save the child, always. But it's a situation that rarely arises. And if the AI is made with the three laws, he she or it would want you to save the boy.

That Dutch trainspotter brought up railway tracks. :roll:

Dorfl isn't programmed with the three laws, hence he's a danger. :D
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Postby Willem » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:02 am

Some guy tied them to the tracks, he was twirling his moustache afterwards.

I'm sure there are people that would choose to save the cow since it's alive and the AI is not, or at least to their opinion. The AI might be rebuilt easily too.
I'm also pretty sure there aren't (m)any people that would save the AI over the boy. For almost everyone, it would be:
1. humans
2. animals
3. plants
4. Simon Cowell
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:41 am

poohcarrot wrote: That Dutch trainspotter brought up railway tracks. :roll:

I know :roll: It still doesn't mean that it makes sense (although the twirly moustache makes it more likely)

poohcarrot wrote:Dorfl isn't programmed with the three laws, hence he's a danger. :D

More dangerous than a human? As an AI, he's likely to be more rational. Mr Pump on the other hand is at the control of anyone in authority, which is more dangerous. But I still don't think he would be able to hurt anyone.

Actually I don't think the golems should be classed as AI. Until they became self-aware they showed little evidence of independent thought - they really were just machines shaped like men. The intelligence developed through the natural evolution of golems.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:03 am

The golems seem to have had a desire - the desire to procreate. To create another golem but one that was going to be better than they were. A golem they could look up to. All the stuff about kings in FoC is not a coincidence. Not only to people (as Terry puts it) seem to think 'kings - what a good idea' - it seems that golems think this too. They try to make an ideal king, but they want so many good things for it that they drive it insane.

Dorfl seems to really become self-aware once he is given his own ownership. It's such a strange concept to him (I'm using the male pronoun because Terry does) that, at first, it causes him to switch off. Not only is he self aware he is now self responsible.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:12 am

So Dorfl is self-aware.

It is also super strong, relatively indestructible, virtually immortal, has the ability to communicate telepathically with other golems, (if it's like Mr Pump) it can do complex mathematical calculations to 3 decimal places and can track anybody anywhere they are, is part murderer, is capable of telling lies, has no robotic laws to prevent it from killing at will, and after Making Money, there is now a golem army buried nearby come the revolution. :shock:
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