Major Stackings made a comment in chat about how the demolition bot seen in the movie hates cats.

Do the 3 laws also protect animals from the deadly whims of robots?

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Answering about Asimovian canon and not any subsequent movie: no, the laws of robotics do not say anything about animals. Hence the three laws do not protect animals. The three laws might affect animals indirectly, for example driving a robot to protect a human's pet (so as not to cause the human grief) or to destroy an animal who might threaten a human.

Asimov did not play much with the definition of human, and to the best of my knowledge he did not write any story about robots' attitude to sentient animals (nor in any serious way to sentient aliens, for that matter).

One story that mentions animals in passing is “— That Thou art Mindful of Him”. In this story, two robots compare the difference between animals and humans to the difference between simple robots and more evolved robots. They conclude that animals and simple robots are of one kind (the kind to which the rules apply) and humans and highly evolved robots (i.e. themselves) are of another kind (the kind that the rules protect).

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    Are you kidding, Asimov played with the definition of 'human' a number of times. Perhaps most famously, when, in Robot and Empire where it turns out that Solaria has managed to define 'human' as 'talks like/is a Solarian'. – Clockwork-Muse Aug 1 '12 at 18:35
  • @X-Zero There's “— That Thou art Mindful of Him”, and a few stories in I, Robot, and the Solarians in the late Foundation stories. Have I missed anything? Considering how much Asimov wrote and how wide a topic this is, I maintain that he did not play much with the definition of human. – user56 Aug 2 '12 at 0:11

The three (actually four) laws of robotics as outlined by Asimov make no mention of animals:

0) A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

So a robot following only those laws are free to do to animals what they wish. The existance of these laws don't preclude other programming being inserted to prevent cruelty to animals though.

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    Though, I'm sure, an errant robots owner would be liable for any illegal poaching. – Major Stackings Jul 31 '12 at 23:46
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    Unless it conflicts with a law... for example killing all animal life on the planet might allow humanity to come to harm... How could I get a Big Mac without animals!? – James Khoury Aug 1 '12 at 7:22

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