I am looking for a short story about a scientist who invents self replicant robots with one goal - to save humanity (in other words prevent humans from killing themselfs); but this simple condition leads to a world where any kind of violence (also murder/suicide) is impossible and every person lives under the constant watch.

It was short (10-20pages i think) and it was part of some collection.

Thanks for help

  • How can this be Utopic if there are violences..
    – user931
    Mar 29, 2015 at 14:31
  • 1
    possible duplicate of SF anthology story about mysterious android servants Mar 29, 2015 at 15:49
  • 1
    When you come back, it would be helpful if you could let us know a time frame when you read it, anything you remember about other stories in the collection, etc.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 29, 2015 at 22:50
  • Ultimately, this is the end result found in the Asimov Robot series.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 30, 2015 at 1:56
  • That's been done many times — “With Folded Hands” is probably the most famous one but not the only one. When did you read it? What do you remember about the scientist and the robots?
    – user56
    Mar 30, 2015 at 13:38

3 Answers 3


Probably Jack Williamson's With Folded Hands, which was expanded into a novel, The Humanoids.

From Wikipedia:

Despite the Humanoids' benign appearance and mission, Underhill soon realizes that, in the name of their Prime Directive, the mechanicals have essentially taken over every aspect of human life. No humans may engage in any behavior that might endanger them, and every human action is carefully scrutinized. Suicide is prohibited. Humans who resist the Prime Directive are taken away and lobotomized, so that they may live happily under the direction of the humanoids.

The short version has been anthologized often.


It doesn't match the "utopic" description, but this reminds me of Robert Sheckley's "Watchbird", where scientists develop an autonomous birdlike creature that learns for the purpose of preventing murders. The birds detect certain hormonal and behavioral changes to be able to catch people before they commit murder, and give the prospective criminal a sharp shock. Of course, things go badly.

The birds expand their definition of murder to include harm of another human being, then any animals, plants, machines... then they decide it's OK to murder humans who are "murdering" these beings, such as cutting the grass or turning off a car. At the end of the story, a newer, more fierce predator, has been introduced to kill the watchbirds while the engineer in charge points out they'll need something even worse to stop them...

"Watchbird" originally appeared in Galaxy Fiction, but has since been released in many anthologies.


The story is "Men are Different" by Alan Bloch

The science fiction short story “Men are different“ by Alan Bloch is about a society of robots in which humans are treated like something special and ordinary.
The humans travel through the galaxy and while stopping they leave colonies against their return. Those days went by and the only thing which remained is the idea of a divine culture.
The archives say that human beings are the same as robots. The are build out of the same structure and even the skeleton is made the same way but only out of different materials.
One day a robot rescues a human out of loneliness and treats him like a friend. The robot teaches him language and takes him to his home. Once the human complains of heat the robot controls the temperature and turns the human off, which causes many troubles because of the fact that human beings cant be restarted like machines.

  • 2
    Can you provide some details to back up your assertion? Sep 27, 2015 at 21:02
  • "Men Are Different" is a robot story, but does not otherwise match the description.
    – user14111
    Sep 27, 2015 at 22:09

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.