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TV Tropes Monday: Second Law My Ass


Tweet of the Day: Industrial Fantasies East and West 

Asimov’s Three Law of Robotic Ethics are as follows:

  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 the orders given 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 Laws.

These “laws” seem pretty reasonable. After all we wouldn’t want our robot servants to turn into murder machines with a misspoken command or a press of a button. But if your goal is to create a interesting robotic character, then your robot buddy will simply say, “Second Law My Ass!” A perfectly obedient robot makes for a boring, and therefore, poor character. However, if you introduce time tested servant tropes to the mix, such as the snarky butler with little apparent respect for his “master” then you have a better dynamic. It also sides steps the idea that an intelligent construct who “must” obey every order given to them is essentially a slave.

Yes, it is as bad as it sounds, and then some.

So give the old law a swift boot to the rear and inject your robotic characters with a heaping dose of personality.



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