did the concept of the robot come?
meanings for the robot within s/f narrative:
- the robot
is a metaphor for the human enslaved by mechanization
- the robot
is a rival to the human 
- the story
of robots run amok .
- robot as
friend, partner, and a complex agent with rights
: e.g. "Robbie"
Turing: cracking the Enigma code; the Turing Game
Weiner: the cybernetic turn: from machines to information
- the computer
intelligence and human intelligence
- the robot,
Elektric and his dog, Sparky, are featured at the 1929
New York World's Fair (look how big this robot is!)
is born in Russia, arrives in Brooklyn at age 3, and has
unlimited access to s/f because his father owns a candy
all but one of the I, Robot stories for John Campell,
the editor of Astounding Stories
- make the
scientific strata of his fiction up to date and rigorous
essential optimism about the advance of modern science
against a pessimism about the directions of social life
|The basic elements
of the I, Robot stories
robot behavior: a problem to solve
things from teh robot's point of view
and robots: an essential social relationship
"positronic brain" and 3 laws
Laws of Robotics (first developed for "Liar")
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 the orders given 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.
- in application,
how does one balance these laws?
(1942) and the endless loop
(1941) robot independence, and the question of superiority
robot kindness and human anger
Robot: questions for discussion in section and next lecture
(1940): what does Gloria's response to Robbie suggest
(1942): what does Speedy getting caught between the
conflicting imperatives (obeying and self-preservation)
suggest about the tension between a software programming
ideal and real world implementation?
(1941) : what does this story, and its display of
Cutie's reasoning powers, suggest about reason as
humans practice it?
That Rabbit" (1944): what does this story suggest
about the dangers implicit in giving one agent (here
Dave) absolute power over his subordinates?
what are the unintended consequences of a robot like
Herbie gaining the power to read human minds? what
sort of ethical crisis does this produce between the
robot and the humans? what do you think of Susan Calvin's
Lost Robot" (1947): Why is the modification of
rule 1 a dangerous business? how does Nestor 10 surprise
his human pursuers? What does Calvin's successful
tricking of Nestor 10 suggest about the essential
conflict between humans and robots?
(1945): What gives "the Brain" in this story
its distinct power? What is the point of the near-death
experience? How has "the Brain" used its
power on Powell and Donovan? on Calvin? on Itself?
(1946): Why does Calvin 'side' with Byerley in his
conflict with Quinn? How does this story resituate
our understanding of the 3 laws?
Evitable Conflict" (1950): What is the "conflict"
and why is it "inevitable"? Are you convinced
by the suggestion that robots might manage human conflict
better than humans?