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Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Little Lost Robot" by Isaac Asimov

First appeared in Astounding. Reprinted by Edmund Crispin, Isaac Asimov, and Martin H. Greenberg in two retrospectives.

US Robots makes robots where they drop off the last part of the first law:
"A robot may not injure a human being [or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm]."
The robot annoys a worker who tells it to get lost, which it does, literally amid 62 other robots who look just like it. Calvin insists they need to track it down lest it create havoc. It starts to feel superior. They lie to the robots that the humans are protected by gamma rays, which can damage humans, but Nestor 10 knows better--it's only . His arrogance does him in... although I'm still not quite sure why.

I mentioned an earlier interpretation from Wikipedia about "Robot Dreams" (I continue the discussion in "The Bicentennial Man") which basically said that the story was anti-robot-slavery. Here's a quote from Susan Calvin:
"The psychologist turned on him with quiet fury, 'I don't want any unbalanced robots in existence.' "
Her job, as I see she sees it, is to protect humanity from rogue robots, at all costs. One might draw a parallel to slavery as undoubtedly there are parallels to men who justified themselves in a similar fashion, but should we protect humanity? and what constitutes a threat to its survival? Calvin is the evolutionary tool to create robots who serve and protect. Should they? That is why they are created, no? to ease the human burden. Do they have feelings, desires, limitations like humans? Quite the moral morass--the tar pits of SF, perhaps.

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