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". . . one of the stock plots of science fiction was that of the invention of a robot--usually pictured as a creature of metal without soul or emotion. Under the influence of the well-known deeds and ultimate fate of Frankenstein and Rossum, there seemed only one change to be rung on this plot.--Robots were created and destroyed their creator; robots were created and destroyed their creator: robots were created and destroyed their creator-- In the 1930's I became a science-fiction reader and I quickly grew tired of this dull hundred-times-told tale. As a person interested in science, I resented the purely faustian interpretation of science."

--Isaac Asimov from the introduction to The Rest of the Robots


Isaac Asimov wanted to change the image of the robot--and he did. Asimov wrote nearly 40 robot short stories, in addition to many novels with robots as main characters. He felt robots were like any other technology: they would have built-in safeguards and the only danger would be their masters. In his first collection of robot short stories, I, Robot, he presented the world with the influential Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov's three laws insured that his robots would not turn on their human masters, and provided him with the seeds for many plots concerning the intricate issues raised by the three laws:

"There was just enough ambiguity in the Three Laws to provide the conflicts and uncertainties required for new stories, and, to my great relief, it seemed always to be possible to think up a new angle out of the sixty-one words of the Three Laws." (Isaac Asimov from Rest of the Robots)

Asimov's robots are the servants and guardians of humans, and are in some ways better than their masters. The only evil that occurs in Asimov's robot stories stems from the humans, and their misuse of robots and perversion of the three laws. to Literature Index