Classic Fantasy and Science Fiction

Asimov's Robots

created by Isaac Asimov

Part 1 of the Asimov's Future History series


Asimov carefully considered the problem of the ideal set of instructions robots might be given in order to lower the risk to humans, and arrived at his Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

These were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround", although foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. Later, Asimov added the Zeroth Law

  1. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm

The rest of the laws are modified sequentially to acknowledge this.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first passage in Asimov's short story "Liar!" (1941) that mentions the First Law is the earliest recorded use of the word robotics. Asimov was not initially aware of this; he assumed the word already existed by analogy with mechanics, hydraulics, and other similar terms denoting branches of applied knowledge.

Titles in series

Cover Images

The Caves Of Steel
The Naked Sun
The Robots Of Dawn
I Robot
The Rest Of The Robots
The Complete Robot

Page last modified on 06 October 2015, at 16:27 GMT