Computers in Sci Fi: Homework I, Robot
Provide written answers for the following questions.
1. Questions about Asimov’s robot universe in general. (a) What are the 3 laws of robotics? (b) What was Susan Calvert’s specialty? (c) How would you describe a positronic brain? Is it a computer? (d) List 3 diﬀerent stories that are based on the fact that robots (and computers) can only do what they’re programmed to do. Describe the situation in each story that exempliﬁes this. (e) What year would you estimate the interview in I, Robot takes place? You can make a very precise estimate given information from the book. (f) Did Asimov’s robots have personalities? (g) What was the relation between humanity and the robots in the early robot stories? How did people treat the robots? (h) What was the role of robots/computers in the ﬁnal robot stories? (i) Compare the evolution of robots in I, Robot with that of Colossus and HARLIE. (j) Who were the Fundmentalists/Society for Humanity? Google the term Luddite and compare them. (k) Are Asimov’s robots (give axamples for each answer) i. Intelligent? ii. Conscious? iii. Self-aware? 2. Questions about speciﬁc stories in I, Robot. (a) Runaround i. What was the problem with Speedy? (b) Reason i. This story introduces the concept of robot religion. Discuss this in the context of the Theology reading cited on the Course Materials page. (c) Liar i. What was Herbie’s special talent? ii. What was the problem that this talent posed with respect to the 3 laws of robotics? iii. How does this story compare to 2001? (d) Escape i. The space ship in this story ends up 300,000 parsecs from Earth. Find out what a parsec is. Given that radio signals travel at the speed of light, calculate how long it would take a control signal from the Brain to reach the ship. ii. In light of your calculations, was this story very realistic? (e) Evidence i. Byerly was a prosecutor. If he was a robot, did Asimov’s discussion of this role with respect to the 3 laws of robotics contradict what was presented in earlier stories? (f) The Evitable Conﬂict i. It is argued that computers(robots) will never be able to do everything. Why? ii. Why were things in the world going less than perfectly?