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I, Robot (Robot, #0.1)
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Archive Sci-fi/Fantasy Reads > [2017 October] Science Fiction : 'I, Robot' by Isaac Asimov

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5582 comments Mod
I, Robot is a science fiction genre of short stories by Russian-American writer Isaac Asimov. The unique feature of Asimov's robots are the Three Laws of Robotics, hardwired in a robot's positronic brain, with which all robots in his fiction must comply, and which ensure that the robot does not turn against its creators. The first book is I, Robot (1950), a collection of nine short stories.


message 2: by Bill (last edited Oct 01, 2017 07:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bill Burris (wburris) | 0 comments I have read I, Robot at least 3 times. The latest read was in June. My plan is to re-read the complete Foundation Universe.


message 3: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
Good plan, Bill. I read them about 30 years ago, so I think it is time for a re-read.


message 4: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5582 comments Mod
The Foundation Universe covers 3 of Asimov's series for a total of 15 books covering a span of 20,000 years! A large quest in my mind Bill :) Best Wishes!!


message 5: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (last edited Oct 01, 2017 09:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
This would be my first read of this book. As Lesle said, in this book it's first stated the Three Laws.

I hope everyone likes our reading for October.


Estevão Calebe | 1 comments Hi! I read this book above 3 years ago. I don't remember too much, but I'll read again to discuss with you guys (at last try). One thing is interesting: my little brother was taking robotics classes and he learn about the 3 laws before start to play with LEGO and build things. It shows how Issac was ahead of your time and influence technology to this days...


message 7: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5582 comments Mod
Thank you for joining in Estevao!

That is really awesome about your brother. Would have never thought about the Three Laws with LEGO's!


message 8: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
I read the first short story. Poor child! At least her father concerns about her more than he concerns about the other people opinions.


message 9: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
I read the first three short stories. The third one was "wow!". This is the reason why Asimov is considered one of the greatest scifi authors.


Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments Just finished the first story and realized that it is the plot for the beginning of the movie "Bicentennial Man" staring my favourite actor Robin Williams.

On a side note I had to smile reading Asimov's description of the world of 1998 with self-directing cars and robots learning how to speak. Isn't this exactly were we are today, though almost 20 years later than Asimov projected. And looking at our children and their intimate relationship to their smart phones, haven't these become the nursemaids of today?


message 11: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Indeed, Peter. It is. I was glad that it have a good ending.


message 12: by Peter (last edited Oct 14, 2017 09:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments I did not like the second story "Runaround" that much. Yes, the fringes and potential contradictions of the three laws of robotics are an interesting topic, but I was missing the deep human emotions of people being at the verge of death. Are Americans really always joking, even in situations like that?
I had the same problem with "The Martian" by Andy Weir, which is brilliant from scientific point of view but frighting plain from the emotional development of the main character. Looking forward to the next story that you praised so much, Rafael.


message 13: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
Peter, I have the same opinion of The Martian. Without the science, there isn't much of a book.


message 14: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "I did not like the second story "Runaround" that much. Yes, the fringes and potential contradictions of the three laws of robotics are an interesting topic, but I was missing the deep human emotion..."

I agree with you about the second short story. I hope you like the third one, Peter.


message 15: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
I have just finished the first story and enjoyed it somewhat. It was an interesting look at family dynamics and a mixture of futuristic technologies. I am glad that Gloria was reunited with her companion, Robbie.


message 16: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Jensen | 83 comments Peter wrote: "Just finished the first story and realized that it is the plot for the beginning of the movie "Bicentennial Man" staring my favourite actor Robin Williams."

The Robin Williams movie is based on an Asimov story of the same name. If you like the movie, then you should check out the story.


message 17: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
The #4, #5 and #6 short stories are great too. Specially the 6th one. The way that Asimov handles with the Three Laws are amazing. The ethics behind them, the psychology of them are amazing.


message 18: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
The second story is like a puzzle or a mystery. The story seemed to flow more than the first one.


message 19: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
You are right, story number 3 is the best so far. I am glad that it ended the way it did.


message 20: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
It is, right?


message 21: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
I see what you mean about the laws of robotics in the sixth story, Rafael. I could also see how frustrating it was for Susan Calvin to work with such uncooperative and uncomprehending people. Who in their right mind would modify the first law?


message 22: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
I am enjoying the book so far, with only two short stories to go, and have noticed two factors that show how this book is a product of its time.

The first is the imagined technology. We have come a long way in robotics technology, but not quite on the path indicated by Asimov, and our space travel is not nearly as advanced.

The second is the role of women. Susan Calvin is the only female character of importance, and she is a psychologist (for robots, but still...). And Asimov also pointed out that she was physcially unattractive.
My two favourite characters are Powell and Donovan. They end up in the most interesting circumstances.


message 23: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (last edited Oct 18, 2017 12:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I am enjoying the book so far, with only two short stories to go, and have noticed two factors that show how this book is a product of its time.

The first is the imagined technology. We have come ..."


Rosemarie wrote: "I see what you mean about the laws of robotics in the sixth story, Rafael. I could also see how frustrating it was for Susan Calvin to work with such uncooperative and uncomprehending people. Who i..."

Who?

Yes. Asimov was a person of his time. Sexism was a common feature between scientists and writers (more common than nowadays). Men was unable to think in a woman withou sexualize her or think in an women that is attractive and still intelligent.


message 24: by Peter (last edited Oct 20, 2017 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments Having read all stories but the last two I agree that "Reason" is clearly the best. Many of its reasonings are revisited later, for example the consequences of (perceived?) superiority of robots (in Little Lost Robot). I do not agree with the postulate, though, that "no being can create another being superior to himself". In that case our children would be inferior to us and the human race (and the entire nature) would have decayed very quickly.

The observation how easy it is to create a "religion", if you don't have access to or ignore facts, is an interesting one too. This way QT and his followers became ideal and believing operators of The Beam. I am afraid that this can be extrapolated on the human nature as well.

One last comment: I actually knew the story before from a German radio play from the year 1967, which actually was produced very faithful to its basis.


Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments One thing that puzzles me in this story as in most of the others is the lack of attention to their spoken communication. I know Americans tend to be less formal, but in the presence of robots capable of understanding and reasoning, people should be more careful with how they express themselves. The story "Little Lost Robot" takes up this topic when the robot took his master by the word and "got lost".

Remarkably this is the first story that plays in a military environment. In the real world I guess it works the other way round that the military embraces the newest technology much quicker that business does.

One more thing about language: I find it a bit disturbing that Asimov refers to robots and humans as "boys" and "masters". This reminds me of the times of slavery. But probably he does this by intent to show the disrespect or rather contempt of men for robots.


message 26: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "One thing that puzzles me in this story as in most of the others is the lack of attention to their spoken communication. I know Americans tend to be less formal, but in the presence of robots capab..."

But it was a lost of temper by the operator, as him confessed. I guess that they (the characters in the story) think as you stated, but the character was under such pressure that yelled to the robot without thinking.


Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments A short observation from the story "The Liar". Herbie, the thought reading robot states in it that textbooks are good to learn science, but one has to read novels to understand the human behaviour.

Isn't this an inspiring and motivating thought for people like us how devote a lot of their time to reading novels?


message 28: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
That is so true, Peter. Herbie was right. I believe you can learn a lot about human nature from novels, especially classics like The Brothers Karamazov.
On the other hand, you can learn about the society of the times by looking at Best Seller Lists.
Sadly, the humanities are undervalued in current times, but there are still hard core readers like us!
I have just finished Fahrenheit 451,a society where all books are burned.


message 29: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Unfortunately, humanities are considered in these days a lesser important area of knowledge.


message 30: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (azulaco) | 13 comments Rafael wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "I am enjoying the book so far, with only two short stories to go, and have noticed two factors that show how this book is a product of its time.

The first is the imagined technol..."


To be honest, I was shocked (but pleased) to begin this book and read that a major scientist character was female. Talk about science fiction! At the time the book was written, this might have seemed almost as farfetched as the robots themselves! Rosemarie and Rafael, yes, not surprising that Asimov then goes on to describe her in an unflattering way. 1950s sterotype: she must be typically "unfeminine" through and through since she's doing a man's job, right?

I'm late to begin reading the book but I'm already loving it. It's so good!


message 31: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
Glad you could join us, Amy. I think that the stories are very intriguing, and enjoyable too.


message 32: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Welcome to this discussion, Amy! Share your opinions anytime as you want.


message 33: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Jensen | 83 comments Peter wrote: "the fringes and potential contradictions of the three laws of robotics are an interesting topic, but I was missing the deep human emotion..."

This had me chuckling pretty hard. Hard-core Asimov fans are so fascinated by logical contradictions that human emotions would be an unwanted distraction.

That being said, Susan Calvin is one of my favorite characters in Sci Fi. It's incredibly rare for a female character to be an active force in the plot of an early Sci Fi work. I was really disappointed when they replaced her with a generic action hero (Will Smith) for the movie.


message 34: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8233 comments Mod
Phil, I haven't seen the movie I, Robot and now I definitely want to avoid it. I have seen bits and pieces while other family members were watching it and it seems to have little do with the book.


Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments My closing thoughts after having read all the stories:

Being a physicist myself I have sympathy for Asimov’s conviction that there will be THE ALGORITHM, fiendishly complicated but allowing to steer all the world based on the side condition of maximal happiness of humanity. BUT, the maximum for all not necessary or rather unlikely will be the maximum for a specific individual. So how far are we - or the machines - ready to go for the “greater good”? And, even more fundamental, how to you define happiness is a scientific sense?

With all the mechanistic – actually almost Marxist – approach to society, economy, technology and history, I dearly miss the free will. Maybe its effects may be below optimal, but this what makes are human after all.

In reality people are not so much opposed to robots as in the novel. We embrace them in form of all the Siris, Alexas and Googles as well as in self-directing cars, artificial intelligence in medicine and military, and multiple forms of industrial robots. But so far these robots are fully dependent on us – or is it just what we are kept believing?


Peter (slawophilist) | 96 comments Rosemarie wrote: "...I haven't seen the movie I, Robot and now I definitely want to avoid it. I have seen bits and pieces while other family members were watching it and it seems to have little do with the book."

The movie has its on virtues, but it is not related to these stories at all but merely set in a world similar to Asimov's.


message 37: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (azulaco) | 13 comments I just finished the second story, "Reason." I'm thoroughly creeped out. Cutie's reasoning is chilling.


message 38: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 5582 comments Mod
Rafael appreciate you Hosting!


message 39: by Rafael, Brazilian Master of the Bookshelf! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 533 comments Mod
Thank you, Lesle. And thank you, everyone, that had joined in our reading. I hope that everyone have enjoyed it, but who had not, do not worry. Every feedback it's valuable here.


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I, Robot (other topics)

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Isaac Asimov (other topics)