5 journalers for this copy...
(1) Robots can’t harm humans
(2) Robots must do as human’s say, as long as law (1) isn’t contravened
(3) Robots must look after themselves…ditto laws (1) & (2)
A retired ‘robopsychologist’ Susan Calvin is involved in most of the stories, providing a narrative link as she recounts the historical events to a reporter.
First the bad news; this is not great literature, heck it probably isn’t even good SF. But, based on the technology when they were written, and the important issues addressed, he is still way ahead of his time; can robots think for themselves; can they bend the strict rules for their own benefit; can they develop such human ‘conditions’ as a sense of humour, mental breakdown, pride & competitiveness? And lastly, the scariest of all, will artificial intelligences even take control, making decisions for which no human programmer can have predicted or is even able to interpret?
Released 14 yrs ago (6/11/2005 UTC) at
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Pre-release for Ipswich meet-up
Very pleased to find it was still on the shelf when I got to Ipswich :-)
Look forward to reading...
I’m not a fan of short stories generally, but there was a consistent theme running through these i.e. situations requiring logical thought based on the Three Laws of Robotics, as described by BookGroupMan above*. Also the premise is that Dr Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist at US Robots, is being interviewed for an article, which adds another layer of connectivity. (So I recommend they are read in order.)
Another reason I found them interesting was the comparison between Asimov and Wyndham (this being my John Wyndham Year, and having not read Asimov before). To start with I wondered if, given a story ‘blind’, I could tell who the author was. After a couple of Asimov’s, though, I would say that Wyndham writes much more simply; but they were both ahead of their time, interject amusing lines and tell a good yarn.
I may have missed it, but Asimov never once explains the meaning of ‘positronic brain’, despite using the term frequently. (Unless it is simply the imprinting of the Three Laws of Robotics into the robot brain.)
* BGM makes an omission in his description of the First Law – it should read A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being come to harm. The intentional omission of the second phrase in a robot’s imprinting is the basis of Little Lost Robot.
My least favourite was the final story, but the logic was good! Also, Reason was pretty irritating! Hence the final score of eight stars.
Asimov speculates the world population as being around 3 billion in 2015. In 1950, when the book was published, it was 2.5 billion, so he was way off mark. It is currently estimated at 6.5 billion. But on the other hand, it's hard to say he was wrong as his War of 1985 (and later?) may have done for half the world population!
I didn’t recognise any single particular story that would have been used for the film, I, Robot but can see how it was another interpretation of how the Three Laws could go wrong.
I’ve listed the stories purely due to my bad memory.
|Robbie (Gloria and her robot) |
Runaround (Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan, Speedy and the selenium pool)
Reason (Powell/ Donovan, Cutie and The Master)
Catch That Rabbit (Powell/ Donovan, Dave and his subordinates in the cave)
Liar! (Dr Susan Calvin, Herbie the mindreader)
Little Lost Robot (Calvin and the 63 Nestors)
Escape! (Powell/ Donovan, interstellar travel on a ship made by The Brain)
Evidence (Calvin, Stephen Byerley standing for mayor)
The Evitable Conflict (Calvin, Stephen Byerley the Co-ordinator, The Machines and world balance)
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Released for the Never Judge a Book by its Cover 2007 Challenge - Week 8 - 'old cover art' i.e. published pre-1980
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