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Asimov's I, Robot

A book by Isaac Asimov

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Asimov predicted the computer nerd stereotype

  • Mar 22, 2004
While rereading this book, I was struck at how prescient Asimov was concerning computers and the mysteries of their apparent anomalous behavior. As a computer programmer, I see many similarities between debugging software and the intricacies of robopsychology. Dr. Susan Calvin, the preeminent expert in the psychology of the robot brain, is the stereotypical computer geek. She was largely humorous, unattractive and had no romantic life, so Asimov predicted what we now see as the typical computer nerd personality. Considering that the stories were all written on or before 1950, long before computers became ubiquitous, the accuracy of his stories regarding the increase in the use of computers is amazing. Recall that this was a time when most experts believed that there was a worldwide market of somewhere around a dozen computers. Also, no one had any idea that it was possible to shrink computers down to the size we have now. Asimov had to postulate a device called a positronic brain to explain it.
In the first story, there is the love between a robot and a little girl, something that is certainly realistic. The concern that the mother has about the girl's affection for the robot and her insistence that it is damaging the child's personality is also fairly predictable. There will always be people who are afraid of new things, while automobiles are now considered a necessity, at first they were considered monstrosities.
Several of the other stories involve robots whose behavior appears to be unbalanced. However, after examining the situation and sticking to the unshakable three laws of robotics, the human characters are able to determine the reasons for the behavior. This really struck a chord with me. There have been so many times when I was convinced that my program was behaving mysteriously and contrary to what it should be doing. However, in all cases, detailed analysis by following the rules of logic led to the inevitable conclusion that the computer was operating according to the innate laws of programming.
While the final story is in this collection of stories about robots, it deals more with the growing roles of computers in human society. The world has been broken up into large economic and political blocks, and computers control nearly all-economic activity. This story is the one that is closest to the current situation, as the growth of the Internet can be considered the first step in a world wide computing structure controlling the economy.
I love these stories and have read this book about five times. Asimov is both optimistic and pessimistic in writing about robots. He is optimistic in the belief that technology will continue to advance in dramatic fashion, but is pessimistic about the degree of reaction to it. Opposition to the use of robots is a theme woven throughout the stories, sometimes reaching

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More I, Robot reviews
review by . February 19, 2011
posted in SF Signal
   Isaac Asimov's I, Robot is a collection of short stories that explores Dr. A's development  of the three laws of robotics (now the 4 laws).      Each of the stories was originally published in Astounding Science Fiction during the 1940s and each is a logic puzzle.      The settings for the stories range from a middle class family's home to the barren and harsh surfaces of various planets in the solar system.  Each presents …
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Actually this is a group of weak short stories whose only redeeming wuality is that they are somewhat novel.
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
very good, quite different from the film
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
This is NOT the movie, in any way! This collection of "robot stories" explores ways in which humans and self-thinking robots might interact, in the most unexpected ways. How can you tell if a robot is lying? Can a robot feel? What does it mean for a robot to die? Fascinating fodder for Asimov's agile mind.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
This book is so much different from the movie carrying the same title, but is just as interesting
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Amazing book. One of my favorites.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
A wonderful collection of stories that looks at Asimov's ideas of the development and implementation of advanced robotics in the future. The movie by the same name only shares the name in common, this book is so much better than that was.
review by . November 17, 2008
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Re-reading "I, Robot" before the movie comes out was a good idea, I'm glad I did. For me, reading Asimov if often a fond trip down memory lane.  But if you have never read Asimov or looking for somewhere to start, I would highly recommend "I, Robot" as a first glimpse into Asimov's world(s). Here is a wonderful and timeless collection of nine short stories that all center around a central theme; The Three Laws Of Robotics.  The three laws are: 1) A robot may not injure a human …
review by . November 02, 2006
Few books have defined a genre of pop culture as well as this short classic by Isaac Asimov. This book is a collection of several stories, all of which are set in the near future when written by I. Asimov in 1950. By reading the stories from front cover to back cover, we see the evolution of human - robot relationships both at a personal level, and on a societal level at large. In all the stories, the relationship is defined by three laws. But the constraints of these laws can cause robot behavior …
review by . August 17, 2004
I, ROBOT is a collection of nine short stories revolving around Susan Calvin, the world's first robopsychologist. The premise of the book is that after spending almost six decades working with U.S. Robots, Susan Calvin is on the verge of retirement. A reporter has been assigned to write an article about Calvin for the Interplanetary Press and he seeks her out to flush out the biographical information he already has about her. What follows are nine separate tales about robots who didn't respond and …
About the reviewer
Charles Ashbacher ()
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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The three laws of Robotics:
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 orders givein 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 Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov's trademark.

From the Hardcover edition.
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ISBN-10: 0553294385 (MM pbk., movie tie-in ed.)
ISBN-13: 9780553294385 (MM pbk., movie tie-in ed.)
Author: Isaac Asimov
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anthology
Publisher: Spectra; Mti edition (November 1, 1991)
Date Published: November 1, 1991
Format: Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages, Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
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