See Isaac Asimov Explain The Robot Rules Humans Need Now More Than Ever

By David Wharton | Published

isaac asimov

Even if you’ve never heard them called by name, or even have no idea who Isaac Asimov was, I guarantee you’ve seen some version of his Three Laws of Robotics, whether in film or TV or games or literature.

The Three Laws from Isaac Asimov form a common backbone of programming that is designed to keep robots from killing all humans. Of course, it seems people or robots are always finding ways to skirt around the Three Laws, which has made for some great stories over the years.

And now, with artificial intelligence becoming increasingly intertwined with our everyday lives, these rules from Isaac Asimov seem to be more important than ever.

With that in mind, here’s a great little gem from the untraveled corners of the interwebs. a young Isaac Asimov explaining the Three Laws. Take it away, Isaac.

There are a few things we love about this Isaac Asimov video. I love seeing Asimov in his younger years, before he was sporting the “white hair and mutton chops” look that became the “definitive” Asimov look.

I also love that Isaac Asimov pronounces “robot” like Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama: “robut.” I mean, this guy knew from robots. Maybe the rest of us have been saying it wrong all these years.

And, of course, there are the three laws themselves which seem to be more important now than ever. It starts with the idea that a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Then there is that a robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where those orders would conflict with the First Law. So no telling a robot to go and knife another human.

Finally, from Isaac Asimov, we get that a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. And if it isn’t going right, well then we get self-destruct mode going.


All of this from Isaac Asimov tracks well, and we would hope that the robots would see it the same way, of course. Later on, Asimov would add a fourth robot rule to the mix when he said that a robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. This goes just beyond the human level and into the whole.

While it didn’t seem like Skynet was on board with any of these rules from Isaac Asimov, we can only hope that the current AI robots being put into function see it the way that is best from humans in the end.

Sadly, there’s no explanation of where this video was filmed or in what context. Still, it’s a nifty little bit of science fiction history that puts a smile on our face, and we hope it puts one on yours as well.

Isaac Asimov thought about this stuff as much as anyone and it would have been fascinating to see what he thought of our current state of robot affairs.

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