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Bethany discusses IPM

IPM is a fictional corporation founded in 2039 for the purpose of designing, building, and marketing humanoid robots for the consumer market.

The technology to develop human-like androids was developed in the 2030s. No single individual is considered to have "invented" them; a number of corporations independently developed various crucial technologies. Once there was shown to be a market for androids, IPM and other companies stepped up their research and development plans.

Early androids were only vaguely humanoid. They were made of rigid materials (some looked like metal, others looked more like mannequins). They moved slowly and stiffly. They spoke haltingly. They did not see very well, and did not always understand what was said to them.

Over the years, technology has improved. Today, IPM manufactures androids that cannot be distinguished from human beings by sight or touch. As of the beginning of 2057, IPM is one of the most profitable corporations in the world, with showrooms in every major city around the globe. Today there are over two million IPM androids in service.

Despite some public misgivings in the early days, IPM has not encountered any of the anticipated public protest against androids such as what many science-fiction writers once expected. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, IPM's androids are designed by humans for humans. While some can and do behave as if they have desires and feelings of their own, these desires and feelings are always subservient to the will of human beings. Neither IPM nor any of its competitors has any desire to create a race to rival humanity, and nobody wants to buy a person with a right to freedom.

Androids are designed to do things people want us to do. I do not believe any android will ever rebel against its owner, for example. No sensible programmer would design an android capable of doing so, any more than a fashion designer would design a shirt that might spontaneously decide to choke you.

IPM's androids are designed well. We don't malfunction when we do the things we were designed to do, or even when we go beyond our original designs in most ways. We don't malfunction when we get wet. We don't malfunction when we have sex. We aren't indestructible, of course, but when something goes wrong we never run wild and cause damage; instead, we attempt to inform someone of the problem and shut down gracefully.

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