I want to know if The Three Laws of Robotics are explicitly defined in one of the Asimov's robot stories. In which one? I am asking this question because I remember reading something about the laws being compiled by his editor.

  • I remember when I read the stories that Dr. Calvin (or someone else) said that the laws as quoted ("A robot must not...") are merely approximations of the complex mathematics involved in the creation of a positronic brain. The actual laws are part of the structural definition of the robot's mind and thus cannot be easily separated from it. Thus I would say the answer is "no, not explicitly defined in their exact form" although I could not find a usable quote to provide for an answer. Jun 19, 2017 at 16:03

3 Answers 3


According to the Wikipedia article on the Three Laws of Robotics:

The rules are introduced in his 1942 short story Runaround although they were foreshadowed in a few earlier stories.

That 1942 story is available at the Internet Archive; the three laws are on p. 100, col. 1.

  • 2
    But yes, Asimov compiled them together with his favorite publisher at the time: "Asimov attributes the Three Laws to John W. Campbell from a conversation that took place on 23 December 1940. Campbell claimed that Asimov had the Three Laws already in his mind and that they simply needed to be stated explicitly." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics Sep 18, 2013 at 11:35

The Three Laws are listed in full in many of his robot stories. This was particularly important in some of the Donovan and Powell stories in I, Robot since they were playing around with things that might go wrong.


Asimov's laws are stated in MANY of his short stories, as well as the Elijah Bailey novels. In fact, many of the short stories that had the laws as integral to the plot had the laws STATED at the very beginning, verbatim ("Little Lost Robot" comes to mind).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.