I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – Reviewed by Guy Portman
In this compilation of nine short stories, robot psychologist Susan Calvin recounts her experiences with US Robotics to a journalist. The central theme of these stories is the three laws of robotics. The three laws are:
- 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 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.
The tense relationship between humans and robots is explored in various contexts, the robots becoming progressively more technologically advanced with each story. In the first, a mother becomes concerned by the close relationship between her daughter and the household’s domestic robot, Robbie. Later human objections result in robots being used only in space, after they are outlawed on earth. In the final story powerful, non-humanoid robots control a utopian World, where nationalism no longer exists.
Published in 1950 at the dawn of the computer age, this, Isaac Asimov’s seminal work, is a thought-provoking and at times humorous book about the evolution of technology that has to date not proven to be as prescient as it might have, due to the relatively low profile impact of robots on human society.
Although this non-science fiction reader appreciated I, Robot, it would no doubt appeal even more to readers of the genre, as well as those with a technological disposition.