TITLE: I, ROBOT
AUTHOR: Isaac Asimov
DATE PUBLISHED: 1968
DATE READ: June 2008
NOTES: Read this rather reluctantly as it was a Reading Group choice and not a book I would normally have attempted. It is a collection of short stories first published in US magazines in the 1940s about the development of robotics in the world in the middle of the 21st century. They are in chronological order and have several characters occurring throughout – in particular Susan Galvin, a robopsychologist who recalls all the stories. She emerges as a strong and well drawn character. Most of the others are a bit one dimensional and the dialogue has not lasted well.
However some of the stories are quite riveting and I can well understand their appeal. Asimov explores ideas about the roles of robots in relation to humans. If robots are programmed not the make mistakes and always to put the interests of humans first then should we allow them to make all our decisions for us? Is this better than allowing humans to fail?
Asimov developed the Three Laws of Robotics and cleverly refers to them in all the stories.
-A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
-A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
-A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.