122

The robots in Asimov's works generally don't have the 'mental' sophistication needed to look ahead for abstract harm in the manner you suggest. For them, the 'inaction' clause must mean the robot cannot allow imminent harm - i.e they must act to prevent harm when they see the harm about to happen. Such events generally don't occur as humans go about their ...


98

In the story Runaround, Asimov clearly indicates that the Three laws are not purely a boolean logic system. In that story SPD is confused because he hits a balance between the two 'potentials': one from the casually stated order to go and get essential minerals (second law), one by the 'third law' desire to protect his existence, since the area the minerals ...


75

The Second Law states A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. So you're saying by refusing to save the girl as ordered by Detective Spooner, the robot has broken that law? The only way it can't have broken the second law is if the corollary comes into play and it would conflict ...


57

Yes, it can. There are varying ways to defend one human from another human attacking them. For starters, a robot could remove the victim from the place of attack: pick up the victim and run away from the attacker. A robot could simply stand between the attacker and the victim, and block the attack - let the attacker hit it, instead of the victim. A ...


45

I remember one novel by Isaac Asimov in which it was revealed, toward the end of the book, that one brilliant scientist had been working hard on a plan to use positronic brains to conquer the other human-colonized worlds of the Galaxy (only a few dozen, I think, at that time) without having the positronic brains know that they were breaking the Three Laws. ...


45

The film appears to operate on anachronistic Asimov mechanics What we would have here is likely a first-law vs first-law conflict. Since the robot can not save both humans, one would have to die. I, Robot era: There is definitely precedent for an I, Robot era robot knowingly allowing humans to come to harm, in the short story "Little Lost Robot", but this ...


43

Because it is the one time that we see Calvin revealed as a person, as a human being, as a woman. In every other story, she is presented as being absolutely cold and calculating, always right and if other people would just listen to her, everything would be fine. But here, her spirits are temporarily lifted with the thoughts and hopes of love, only to have ...


43

Genocide of non humans. In Foundation's Edge it's implied that the robots using time travel shenanigans are the reason why humans never meet any aliens in the milky way, only empty planets ready to be colonized. it is said, it was the robots who established Eternity somehow and became the Eternals. They located a Reality in which they felt that human ...


35

As far as a classic "Three Laws" robot is concerned, the answer is very simple indeed. As we see in Liar!, a robot who, either by action or inaction would harm a human simply mentally implodes. The actual number of harmed humans is utterly irrelevant to the discussion. The psychologist paid no attention. “You must tell them, but if you do, you hurt, ...


34

The short story "Liar!" has been referenced as the source for the claim that the robot would be unable to take action, or burn out after doing so. However, this story is mentioned, and in a sense, disproved in a later work - Robots of Dawn. The relevant quotations are as follows: As the theory of positronic brains has grown more subtle and as the ...


29

A highly speculative question, but let us take a stab at it: Step #1: Define a robot A robot is basically a computer with sensors and actuators attached. You can take away the sensors and actuators without reducing the essence of a robot, which leaves the computer, or the brain. A computer is based on three things (as someone with your level of education ...


28

Since the "merger" of the Robot universe and the Foundation universe reveals that robots manipulated and dominated human history for thousands of years, in a very real sense the galaxy is their padded room and most of Asimov's works in this "unified universe" take place inside that padded room. We just can't see the walls.


27

The Wikipedia article does say that Asimov himself made slight modifications to the first three in various books and short stories to further develop how robots would interact with humans and each other. In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations Having said that, your Denial-of-...


27

Perhaps not "significant harm to humanity", but the robot in Asimov's short story Liar! causes significant harm to a few humans even though it is trying its best to follow the Three Laws. Because of a manufacturing error, the robot can read minds, which causes it to lie to humans by telling them what it knows they want to hear. Tragedy ensues when the ...


25

It's important to note that Asimov's robot stories are all separate stories that he wrote for different reasons, that have different themes. Some stories, such as Runaround, emphasize the fallacy of strict adherence to the letter of the law regardless of practicality and the potential for cognitive dissonance: Powell eventually realizes that the selenium ...


23

. . . That Thou Art Mindful of Him This story was the setting for trying to resolve the issues with the second law, that being "A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law", this is a problem when it comes to allowing the general human population to come into contact with robots outside ...


18

Yes. In That Thou Art Mindful of Him a pair of highly advanced robots study the laws, discuss the weights they must give to them in the event of conflicts (such as saving a child versus and elderly person, etc) and eventually decide that they are 'human' as defined by the laws in every way that matters. They then decide that, as the most advanced 'humans', ...


18

It would depend on the complexity of the robot concerned, what the human was saying, and the context. Cutie did doubt what humans told him: he doubted that the two humans made him even though they told him they had assembled him; he doubted that the dot of light they showed him in the telescope was a planet; he doubted everything that Powell and Donovan ...


17

Some of the stories set inside the universe handle this case: In Runaround there is a conflict between the second and third law (check the answer by DJClajworth) In the Bicentennial Man / The Positronic Man one of the elements of the storyline is that people order the protagonist to dismember himself, which he has to do. In the second robot trilogy (Caliban,...


16

You seem to be forgetting something- Herbie wasn't just capable of understanding human emotion, he was capable of reading their minds. Even more importantly, he wasn't programmed for that. Robots capable of reading emotions that were programmed for it could, of course, deal with that by prioritising properly. They have the programming to handle it, else ...


15

Robotics is an area of technology which has, over time, become glaringly absent in Star Trek, and in particular in Starfleet and Federation society. Yes, there is some automation, and, yes, TOS does on occasion portray the ship's main computer as having a personality of sorts, but strong AI is incredibly rare in the Star Trek universe, and even weak AI and ...


15

My instinct would be to say yes. The first law is that "a robot may not harm a human or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm. It seems reasonable that neglecting to include the three laws in another robot's programming could cause harm to a human, and thus would violate this law.


15

There are several instances of badly behaving robots throughout Asimov's writings, but I am not aware of a standard, unmodified Asenion robot (programmed with the Three Laws) who could be considered malevolent. Some have unknowingly hurt or killed human beings (such as Hannis Gruer in The Naked Sun) or have behaved unexpectedly (Herbie from Liar!), but it ...


15

I am going to look at this question from a logical real-world point of view. The robot does not break the second law; but technically, it does break the second. That said, the rules would only be a condensed explanation of far more intricate logic and computer code. To quote Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics, emphasis mine: Rule 1: A robot may not ...


12

I doubt she could update all of the NS-4 models, as they'd all need to be put into update at the same time for the mass control effect she wanted. Plus they were probably limited in what sort of reprogramming they could undergo without becoming suspicious. The Demo bot on the other hand probably has very simple software, and may not have even been 'sentient'...


12

A bit late, but I just read this very relevant part from The Robots of Dawn (chapter Daneel). Elijah Baley suggests ordering self-destruction as a way a "roboticide" might have been committed to Daneel. His reaction: On Aurora - or on any of the Spacer worlds - robots are regarded more highly than on Earth, and are, in general, more complex, versatile, ...


11

You are harmed if a vandal takes a sledge hammer and destroys your robot, aren't you? You suffer financial loss; perhaps you even grieve for a lost friend. If a robot is instructed to destroy itself without motive it would cause you the same harm, and hence feel compelled not to obey.


10

As an addition to @HNL answer, here are some diagrams showing robot internals. General diagram Actually 'processing' itself could be divided to 2 layers, similarly to a human neural system - there should be high-level system performing high-level tasks (like 'Go shopping'), and low-level tasks like 'Left leg - make next step'. That seems more logical from ...


10

It's explained in the first few paragraphs. They can't communicate directly with Speedy by radio (to tell him that they're in danger or strengthen the order) since he's well outside of the effective radio range on Mercury. The radio itself appears to be fixed into place. They were in the radio room now - with its already subtly antiquated equipment, ...


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