Choice of Robots

by Kevin Gold

Science Fiction
2014

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Number of Ratings: 31
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- SherwoodForbes, June 21, 2022

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A masterclass in science fiction, April 27, 2021
by Chin Kee Yong (Singapore)

Choice of Robots is an excellent, highly replayable SF story about the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on modern society. It's so good that I would buy it again twice over if I could.

At its heart, science fiction is about "what if" questions: what if you could travel back in time? What if androids were indistinguishable from humans? The best SF stories take an intriguing "what if" question and spin it into a gripping vision of a world that could be. The genius of Choice of Robots is that it lets you ask the "what if" question yourself -- through your actions and choices, you write the SF prompt that you find most personally appealing, and the game presents you with the future defined by your choices. The result is a riveting story structure that makes perfect sense for a science-fiction CYOA, full of player agency, surprises, and replayability.

The prose and narrative design of Choice of Robots are consistently excellent. Character and story arcs are vividly elaborated in sharp, elegant paragraphs. The game clearly foreshadows decision points and the results of your choices, resulting in a game that feels responsive and fair. And all the way through the game, those choices are remembered and referenced with staggering fidelity: your robot may develop a lifelong love of computer games or TV programming, depending on the corpus you train it with in the very first chapter.

An abundance of science fiction, IF, and computer science references betray the author's dedication and passion for his work. Turn-of-the-millennium American culture is lovingly illustrated, explored, and lampooned. Perhaps most importantly, the philosophical themes of the work are imbued in every chapter -- the ethics of artificial life, the balance between inquiry and humanity -- resulting in a cohesive authorial voice that resonates from every page.

But enough gushing. The point is that Choice of Robots is a damn good work, worthy of its pedestal in the IF canon; in my opinion, it could even be ranked among the all-time science fiction classics. This is a bona fide interactive fiction masterpiece: thoughtful, funny, heartwarming, solemn, and yet full of joy.

5/5 game, would conquer Alaska with killer robots again.


- mifga (Brooklyn, NY), October 14, 2020

- autumnc, September 12, 2020

- Zape, August 16, 2020

- Artran (Prague, Czech Republic), February 24, 2020

- jjsonick, August 16, 2019

- Joey Jones (UK), March 31, 2019

- Stas, April 2, 2018

- Sobol (Russia), February 3, 2018

- gnarp, January 30, 2018

- Lenox, January 19, 2018

- hoopla, December 7, 2017

- karlnp (Vancouver, BC), August 23, 2017

- John Ayliff (Vancouver, BC), June 13, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 3, 2017

- Laney Berry, May 15, 2017

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A must for any serious AGI developer or Roboticist. , March 12, 2017
by elspru (Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada)
Related reviews: robot, scifi,

It helped me discover what I valued most in regards to AGI development and my dreams for the future of robot-human interaction. I’d recommend it to anyone serious about AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) or Robots.

Play

I found the first play through to be the most genuine and enjoyable. My robots ended up with very high autonomy and empathy. I ended up replacing my arm with a robotic prosthetic, and getting a chip in my head, as well as marrying a robot, who said we would go to the stars together.

I played it several other times to get to various other story-archs I was interested in, such as the business, robo cult, hive mind and nation founding ones. I found them to be mildly informative, but most of all it was nice to be faced with these choices, make them and thus have a better idea of what combination of things I truly want for myself.

I found I didn’t like playing “fake” as in making uncharacteristic choices to maximize certain attributes, but found that I could play myself, just keep an eye on the score, and if all the attributes are over 20 by mid game then you’ll have maximum choice with what to do.

Bodies

The host bodies of the robots were rather minimal, though granted most of the plot is really about you, and discovering who you are, rather than gaining any insights about the robots.

One particularly incredulous part was where in 2019, a phone is used for the robots brain. I imagine that perhaps Dr. Gold was under the impression that Siri is an AI that lives in your iPhone/iPad, but that is a common misconception, as actually Siri lives in Apple’s cloud, and sends your voice there, and responses from there. The “Siri” on your phone is little more than a voice message forwarding program.

In reality a phone may be realistic in the 2030’s, as even in the 2020’s when we’re first scheduled to achieve consumer grade human-level computer hardware it will still be workstation/desktop size.

Right now (2017) only large corporations can afford human-level computer hardware, it can take for example contemporary 900 GPU’s to do the work of a Deep Learning computer programmer.

Storyline-Archs

In general I’m happy with the selection of archs available, covers just about every readily apparent eventuality.

Though admittedly I had to play through it maybe 5 or 6 times before getting to all the parts I wanted.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s probably one of the best books/games I’ve ever played in my whole life, and well worth the money.

While it claims to be 300,000 words, I think it depends on how it is counted. A single play through reads like a novella 4-5 hours, can be completed in an evening or two.

Can play the first two chapters for free, the whole game is the cost of a few USB cables ($5).


- chargefire, January 25, 2017

- magicnumber, January 9, 2017

- gobbldygook, August 31, 2016

- eyeballkidable, July 17, 2016

- scotttalent, May 17, 2016

- Aselia, May 15, 2016

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Waaaah - robots!, May 1, 2016

I have to stop reviewing the titles I love! Longer titles like this are more labours of love than commercial ventures and if we want to see more of them from Kevin Gold - who writes a seamless, broad and >original< narrative in Robots
- we need to read and review in their support.

In choice of robots I ended up helping humanity better itself with my robot creation made out of, yes . . . wood.

Why oh why I didn't see eye to eye with the department of Defence I'm not quite sure. . .
; )



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