Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics

What Does Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics Mean?

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are an invention of this author first pioneered in his 1942 story “Runaround” and then incorporated into the “Robot” series and “Foundation” series of books that Asimov generated over a period of time from the 1950s to the 1980s. Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are proscriptive rules governing what robots can and cannot do, according to a fairly complex logical moral code.


Techopedia Explains Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics

The Three Laws of Robotics can be found in Asimov’s 5-book “Robot” series of novels, and in some of the 38 short stories which the author wrote from 1950 to 1985. Another series, the “Foundation” series, began in the 1950s and finished in 1981.

Asimov’s Three Laws are as follows:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders, unless they conflict with law number one.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as those actions do not conflict with either the first or second law.

In many ways, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics provide a kind of window into the digital age, in which robotics is now very real. Long before artificial intelligence became practical, Asimov anticipated some of its effects, and created this overall moral criteria to govern his fictional universe. In many ways, these ideas can provide guidance for the kinds of technologies likely to be generated throughout the 21st century.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.