I, Robot is a series of short stories about robots by Isaac Asimov in the 1940’s. They illustrate Asimov’s fictional history of robotics in the 20th and 21st centuries, along with some of the challenges U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. encountered with their robot models.
Programmed into almost all of U.S. Robots’ positronic robots are The Three Laws of Robotics, which can’t be bypassed:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Most of the stories in I, Robot are about how the robots interpret The Three Laws in unintended ways.
I, Robot is a classic work of science-fiction and, despite being over 60 years old, still remains relevant today. It is thought-provoking, funny, and chilling. My favorite stories were “Reason” (about a robot that doesn’t believe it was created by humans) and “Little Lost Robot” (about a robot that tries to hide itself after being told to get lost).
If you’ve seen the 2004 movie I, Robot starring Will Smith, don’t expect the book to be like the movie. Other than Asimov’s Three Laws and some of the character names, they don’t have much in common.