In Robot Suicide: Death, Identity, and AI in Science Fiction, Liz W Faber blends cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, and medical sciences to show how fictional robots hold up a mirror to our cultural perceptions about suicide and can help us rethink real-world policies regarding mental health. For decades, we’ve been asking whether we could make a robot live; but a new question is whether a living robot could make itself die. And if it could, how might we humans react? Suicide is a longstanding taboo in Western culture, particularly in relationship to mental health, marginalized identities, and individual choice. But science fiction offers us space to tackle the taboo by exploring whether and under what circumstances robots—as metaphorical stand-ins for humans—might choose to die. Faber looks at a broad range of science fiction, from classics like The Terminator franchise to recent hits like C. Robert Cargill’s novel Sea of Rust.
Liz W. Faber is assistant professor of English and communication at Dean College and adjunct instructor of scientific and academic writing at University of Maryland Baltimore’s Graduate School.
Introduction: When Robots Choose to Die
Chapter 1 – Morbid Machines: Interiority and Mental Health
Chapter 2 – Automated Altruism: Self-Sacrifice and US War Culture
Chapter 3 – The Human Touch: Eugenics and Assisted Suicide
Conclusion: Programming Life and Death
Faber's detailed, compassionate analysis of the possibility of and reasons for robot suicide reminds us to look at more than the obvious. In reading Robot Suicide we are transported to a deeper consciousness, where we recognize the humanity of our robot companions--not inherent, but because we created them in our own image. This book is a vital contribution to our understanding of sci-fi, robots, the social conception of suicidality, and transitively, of ourselves.