In honor of the anniversary of Isaac Asimov’s birth, here is some information on the famous father of science fiction and some of his greater works to read up on this January. If you are not a fan of science fiction, the name Isaac Asimov may have very little meaning to you, but without this man, many of your ideas surrounding robotics, space travel and other futuristic themes.
Man of the Future
Isaac Asimov was a biochemistry professor at Boston University, but most science fiction readers know him as the man who created the three laws of robotics. While Asimov did write works in fantasy and at least a few mysteries, he is still considered one of the big three of the hard science fiction. It was not only in fictional science that Asimov wrote for, his works are listed in several non-fiction categories as well, and it is easy to see that he used all of his knowledge to add stunning elements of plausibility to his stories and novels.
Asimov began his writing career in the 1930’s and quickly found his niche in robotics and space travel. His futuristic and sometimes dystopian views of man versus machine are without doubt legendary. Many of our views in the real world use of machines have evolved from this author’s great ideas.
Man Versus Machine
How many science fiction aficionados can easily offer the three rules of robotics? Even those who may only be familiar from the films based on Isaac Asimov’s Robot Series, most notably, I,Robot, know that there are certain rules that man and machine must follow. The Robot Series premiered with I, Robot in 1950, and was followed by Caves of Steel in 1953, The Naked Sun, 1955, then much later by The Robots of Dawn in 1983 and Robots and Empire in 1985.
The Robot Series’ opening story, I, Robot has been adapted for screen as well, in the film of the same title starring Will Smith. In this film we saw some merging of the Robot Series stories, but the essence of the struggle of man versus machine and more deeply, what does it mean to be human, is well represented.
The Laws of Man and Machine
If you are not an avid science fiction reader, or have friends who are, you may not be as familiar with Asimov’s laws.
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
There are of course so many ways to manipulate this for great fiction, as well as to make a statement about our own ethics as humans.
Happy birthday, Isaac Asimov, you were a man far ahead of the curve.