I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov’s novel, I, Robot, consists of a number of shorter stories that tie together.  An elderly Susan Calvin is being interviewed about her career as a robopsychologist with one of the premier developers of robots.  Each of the stories take place during a different stage of history in which robots and later, machines, have a greater degree of influence on the world portrayed in the novel.

The novel was written in 1950 and some of the future dates in the book are presently in the past, but it’s not difficult to make the adjustment.  Like much science fiction written several decades ago, it’s always fun to see what kind of things “came true”.  While much of the technology in the book probably exists in some form today, the story to me still seemed like the future.

I don’t know whether this was part of Asimov’s plan or whether it’s just me, but I had a difficult time relating to the humans in the story.  None of them seemed very likable – with the exception of the little girl, Gloria, who had a robot (Robbie) as a nursemaid.   On the other hand, I loved the robots, especially the one who read human minds and romance novels.

I did develop an appreciation for Susan Calvin.  As time went on, she seemed to gather a considerable amount of insight regarding robots and humans and the world in which they both lived.  When the relatively peaceful world could not determine whether the machines were making right or wrong decisions, in spite of technological advances, she came up with this conclusion:

…it would be harmful to humanity to have the explanation known, and that’s why we can only guess – and keep on guessing.

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2 responses to “I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

  1. Hi Dale,
    I read this a few years ago and remember being surprised that it was multiple stories woven together. Sadly I don’t remember that much about it. I remember something about the ‘three laws’ (or however many there were) of robot behavior that supposedly help prevent a “robot uprising” and that, I think, these laws have been somewhat adopted by real scientists in their work (?). I’m going to have to revisit this book to get my memory in order … 🙂
    -Jay

  2. Hi Jay,
    Yes, I almost posted something about the three laws, but I could never keep them straight. They had to do with a robot never harming a human and about self preservation for the robots. The first took precedent over the second. I can’t remember what the third one was (I know, I just read it!). Now that you bring it up, it’s interesting that there never was a robot uprising. I never saw the movie version with Will Smith. For some reason, I have a feeling a lot got changed in the movie.
    -Dale

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