I, Robot

Hands down probably one of the most thrilling collections I’ve ever read. Definitely way better than Foundation. I, Robot is universe building at its finest. Asimov takes the three fundamental laws of robotics that he deals with and pushes their logical foundations to the limit. Some of the short stories in here revolve around the tenuous relationship between robots and humans. However, most of them deal with potential changes in the three laws or how the combination of the three might lead robots to do something illogical or just “funny”.

I’m not too sure how to put it into words, but there’s so much genius in these stories that they have to be read to truly be experienced. In particular, the plot twist in “Evidence”, revealed at the very end of the story, shook’eth’d my mind like no other. It’s pretty rare that I read something that I end up reeling from, but I think that story definitely sticks out as one.

At the beginning of the collection, I remember thinking something along the lines of how silly a “robot psychologist” like Dr. Calvin might be; after all, in the current day and age, robots are pretty logically structured beings. Lots of the stories that revolve around understanding why exactly a robot does something feels silly: why not just boot up the debugger and find out? While that may have worked for traditional computing in the past 40 years, the future definitely seems to be more in line with the world Asimov has created.

Machine learning and neural nets definitely comprise something that humans don’t fully understand. There’s too much intricacy and depth to understand why a system works, only that it does. In many ways, this is pretty common to the situations that Asimov describes, and why a simple “debugger” isn’t appropriate for the situation.

I can’t wait for the future, but reading this collection definitely made me feel like I was a part of it for a few short hours.


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