Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Three Immutable Laws of Robots
I recently bought a book called "The Robots of Dawn" by Isaac Asimov. It cost me $2 and spent three months on The New York Times Bestseller List in 1983. As you might have guessed from the title, it's about robots. It takes place in the future and deals with Roboticide, the murder of a robot. I never skip to the last page of any book I read, but occasionally I'll know how the story is going to end. You don't read "Romeo and Juliet" or "Into the Wild" for the ending. You read it for the stuff in between, so the stuff in between better be good. I know the ending of The Robots of Dawn, not because the murder of a robot on the planet Aurora in the distant future is something widely reported in the news, but because the summary on the back of the book gave it away. Now here's the real problem. The book is about a guy trying to solve this murder, but instead of blasting robots apart with lasers and ripping the humans limb from limb, he worries about the danger of space travel and tries to get to the bottom of the mystery with quirky logic and drawn-out interviews with robots. It's like Earth sent Woody Allen into the future to solve robot mysteries. I bought a thrift store book about robots in the future should be blowing stuff up in space, not arguing for ten pages about which of the Three Immutable Laws of Robotics takes precedence. And now I know the ending, too? Come on.