Klara and the Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Student Question

How does Klarna, as an AI companion, positively affect Josie in Klara and the Sun?

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The relationship between Klara and Josie in Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Klara and the Sun provides an interesting exploration of the value that Artificially Intelligent companionship has and might have in the future. At the age of fourteen, Josie treats Klara as a friend, who improves her mood and rekindles her interest in the world. On a practical level, Klara is willing to make any sacrifice she can in order to help Josie. Josie's mother, however, sees Klara as a machine.

For people who have grown to adulthood without AI companionship, it will almost certainly be difficult, at least initially, not to focus on the artificiality of Artificial Intelligence. The idea of having a teacher, a therapist, or a friend who is a robot will necessarily seem unnatural (as indeed, it is) and disconcerting. However, human history is a long record of unnatural processes and activities becoming natural. Klara and the Sun suggests that if robots act like human beings, people will quickly learn to treat them as human beings, and children who grow up with AI all around them will see nothing unnatural about it.

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