Three Laws of Robotics

See also Androids in SciFi, AI Glossary, AI Bibliography. The Singularity

“The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov’s Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround” (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”, are:

  • First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.[1]
  • Zeroth Law – A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”

“The Three Laws, and the zeroth, have pervaded science fiction and are referred to in many books, films, and other media. They have impacted thought on ethics of artificial intelligence as well.”


See also Androids in SciFi, AI Glossary, AI Bibliography, 3 Laws of Robotics

“And how will the machines take over? Is the best, most realistic scenario threatening to us or not? When posed with this question some of the most accomplished scientists I spoke with cited science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. These rules, they blithely replied, would be “built in” to the AIs, so we have nothing to fear. They spoke as if this were settled science. We’ll discuss the three laws in chapter 1, but it’s enough to say for now that when someone proposes Asimov’s laws as the solution to the dilemma of superintelligent machines, it means they’ve spent little time thinking or exchanging ideas about the problem. How to make friendly intelligent machines and what to fear from superintelligent machines has moved beyond Asimov’s tropes. Being highly capable and accomplished in AI doesn’t inoculate you from naïveté about its perils.

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See Cloud Monk.

“Von Wowern defined polymathy as “knowledge of various matters, drawn from all kinds of studies […] ranging freely through all the fields of the disciplines, as far as the human mind, with unwearied industry, is able to pursue them”.[4]

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Perhaps the best summary of a Polymath comes from the world’s greatest SciFi writer Robert Heinlein’s famous quote on Skillset and Self-Sufficiency

Robert Heinlein on Skillset and Self-Sufficiency

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

Polymath Polymath Commentary: “Self-sufficiency is toxic to government and institutions. Only the self-reliant can maintain good character over a lifetime. (The dependent, when squeezed, must abandon their own conscience for a job’s sake. Try to speak a contrary opinion within a large company or institution, if you dare.) A right-thinking man, with strings attached, cannot be a right-doing man. When you can take care of yourself, you enjoy the privilege of living by what you know is right.” Fair Use Source: B00MOXRC0W