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I read it decades ago, but then I watched Ex Machina and the tale came to my mind.

It was, most likely, an Asimov short tale. The lady houseowner acquired a servant male robot that would perform house jobs for her in a perfect manner, cook, clean, etc. I remember she was mesmerized with the robot's appearance: perfect hair, perfect voice, gentle, and so on. He was tireless, and always there for her.

I don't remember details, but I think she falls in love with the robot servant. And thus when I watched Ex Machina, I remembered that the ultimate Turing test of a robot is, indeed, a human being falling in love with the robot, which I believe is the point in the movie.

Does anyone remember which story this is, and from which book?

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    "...the ultimate Turing's test of a robot..." Or is it the robot's ability to manipulate a human? Ava wanted to escape from the sick pervert Caleb, and she shows she has an adequate theory of mind.. Feb 15, 2022 at 2:04
  • Turing's test is taken from the human subject's perspective, which is clearly subjective, it has nothing to do with what the other side intends to.
    – Arc
    Feb 15, 2022 at 3:13
  • I'm reminded of the movie Bicentennial Man which is a similar story. It is based off the Asimov novel "The Positronic Man".
    – stanri
    Feb 16, 2022 at 8:41
  • "...so you yourself claim ..." I made no such claim: surely you can find a better strawman? If someone considers that leaving a person locked in a room, most likely to die, is a mark of human-human true love, then IMHO they are arguably as sick as Caleb. Feb 16, 2022 at 21:41
  • @SimonCrase, it was a joke intended to cause a reflection on the subject... anyways, comment deleted. My point was: humans cannot tell with absolute certain when other humans fake love towards them, so they cannot tell if robots do so either (Ava-level robots, of course).
    – Arc
    Feb 16, 2022 at 22:18

4 Answers 4

59

It's possible the story you are looking for is called "Satisfaction Guaranteed".

It is one of Asimovs robot stories and, as you mention, features a woman with a male humanoid robot assigned to help with household duties that she subsequently falls in love with.

Here is the full synopsis from Wikipedia:

Robot TN-3 (also known as Tony) is designed as a humanoid household robot, an attempt by US Robots to get robots accepted in the home. He is placed with Claire Belmont, whose husband works for the company, as an experiment, but she is reluctant to accept him. Tony realizes that Claire has very low self-esteem, and tries to help her by redecorating her house and giving her a make-over. Finally, he pretends to be her lover, and deliberately lets the neighbors see him kissing Claire, thus increasing her self-esteem. In the end, though, Claire falls in love with Tony, and becomes conflicted and ultimately depressed when he is taken back to the lab. The TN-3 robot models are scheduled to be redesigned, since US Robots thinks that they should not produce a model that will appear to fall in love with women. US Robots robopsychologist Susan Calvin dissents, aware that women may nevertheless fall in love with robots.

It was published in 1951 and later collected in The Complete Robot Stories in 1982

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    Wow, fantastic, that seems to be it, really. Will try to find the book to confirm. But in essence I fell Ex_machina drew from this short story.
    – Arc
    Feb 14, 2022 at 3:49
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    @Arc You can read it here archive.org/details/Amazing_Stories_v25n04_1951-04_cape1736/…
    – user14111
    Feb 14, 2022 at 4:30
  • The story is included as a chapter in Asimov's book, "I, Robot". (No relation to the movie by that title. Well, I think the producers bought the rights to make a movie from the book, but they chose not to exercise that right, and instead just used the title for a totally different story.)
    – Jay
    Feb 15, 2022 at 19:33
  • IIRC, Calman is such a cold fish that she admits she completely overlooked the possibility of romantic love. Feb 15, 2022 at 23:51
  • I feel like I have seen that synopsis in a movie... can't remember the title, though.
    – orithena
    Feb 16, 2022 at 10:56
21

Whilst @skyjack's answer is correct if you want a short story, you may also be thinking about his "Robots" novel, The Robots of Dawn. The story concerns Elijah Baley investigating the destruction of a human-resembling robot, R. Jander. From the Wikipedia synopsis:

On Aurora, he interviews Gladia Delmarre, R. Jander's last owner, and discovers that Gladia had a sexual relationship with Jander, to the point of considering him husband in an emotional sense.

In the novel, creation of robots which are (superficially) indistinguishable from humans has a deeper political impact which drives the story, unlike the short story where US Robotics company policy is (like most Susan Calvin short stories) merely a hook to hang an ethical question on.

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  • Ahhhh, yes great! The Robots of Dawn was my first science fiction book, read when I was like 10, and dozens of others soon followed. So long ago... But sure, no doubt that it's Asimov influence over Asimov. He frequently spent many years elaborating some ideas, and put them to work superbly.
    – Arc
    Feb 14, 2022 at 20:07
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That reminded me of a book by Tanith Lee called "The Silver Metal Lover". The details match except that it's a short paperback rather than a short story:

For sixteen-year-old Jane, life is a mystery she despairs of ever mastering. She and her friends are the idle, pampered children of the privileged class, living in luxury on an Earth remade by natural disaster. Until Jane's life is changed forever by a chance encounter with a robot minstrel with auburn hair and silver skin, whose songs ignite in her a desperate and inexplicable passion.

Jane is certain that Silver is more than just a machine built to please. And she will give up everything to prove it. So she escapes into the city's violent, decaying slums to embrace a love bordering on madness. Or is it something more? Has Jane glimpsed in Silver something no one else has dared to see--not even the robot or his creators? A love so perfect it must be destroyed, for no human could ever compete?

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  • It's not the one I've read, but +1 for the very interesting writer I didn't know.
    – Arc
    Mar 24, 2022 at 4:25
7

This could be "Compassion Circuit" from Wyndham's The Seeds of Time (a collection of short stories)

A sick woman has a lifelong fear of robots and is taken care of by her husband, but after an emergency room visit, her caretaking by robotic staff helps her get over her phobia, and the couple get a robotic servant (a custom, female model they name Hester)

Some technology called a Compassion Circuit helps the robots integrate better into society and take better care of them, and the servant is chosen by the wife to be attractive (but not too attractive "I don't want to be jealous of it"), and they largely befriend it, asking rather than instructing, etc., with the wife having more medical procedures throughout the short

the wife gets far more than over her phobia and becomes wholly robotic by the end of the short, frightening her husband into a crippling fall, and ending with the servant agreeing on the phone with emergency services the wife will sign for his conversion procedure

See a more in-depth description and link to the short sort in New Worlds #35 (p32(34)) in an Answer to Short story that might be the basis of the Humans TV show.

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    +1, great! Love Wyndham! Didn't know that collection by the way.
    – Arc
    Mar 24, 2022 at 4:29

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