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Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov
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Substance: Because these are stories of philosophy, psychology, and detection as much as they are stories of science, they out-live the chronachronisms inherent in work that stays viable past the dates of its "internal future".
I don't always agree with Asimov's position that somehow an elite corps of reasoning machines will somehow engender Utopia; we have seen that human elites with similar "good intentions" just screw things up. See Jack Williamson's story "With Folded Hands" for the end-game.

Style: Asimov is bluntly subtle.

STORIES: "Robot Visions"; "Too Bad!";
"Robbie" the first robot story he wrote, in 1939, sets up his premise of "safe" robots, and is still engaging.
"Reason" attempts to parody religion, but actually supports the need for it; explanations are less important than performance; chronachronism: robots working slide rules.
"Liar" demonstrates how difficult it can be to define "do no harm".
"Runaround";
"Evidence" p. 146: some people also follow the Three Laws (see one of his essays in this book).
"Little Lost Robot" p. 146: modifying the First Law causes problems; p. 167: government functionaries can make the Devil's Bargain look good.
"The Evitable Conflict" p. 195: welcome to the ultimate Nanny State; p. 215: minor modifications in Law 1 makes machines into gods; p. 16: false premises?
"Feminine Intuition" p. 243: robopsychologist Susan Calvin deals with men as if they were robots.
""The Bicentennial Man" still makes me cry.
"Someday"; "Think!"; "Segregationist";
"Mirror Image" R. Daneel brings Lije a mystery, which he solves on the basis of human psychology but must figure out how to get the robots to provide proof; it is very unsettling to know that robots will lie to protect humans from harm, because they have to be the ones who decide what is harmful.
"Lenny" is still one of the most affecting of the Susan Calvin stories; chronachronism: perforated tape input to computers.
"Galley Slave" p. 394: despite Asimov's (possible) sympathy with the problems nascent in robotic monopolies over "boring" tasks, he needn't worry - humans will always want to do creative things on their own (look at the move of women, and some men, back into home-made everything and crafting).
"Christmas Without Rodney" p. 398: "Rambo" a name invented by Asimov in 1988, or after the movie as a joke?
p. 404: does wishing always lead to action?

ESSAYS:
p. 409: there were several stories of robots lying and manipulating people "for their own good"; does this imply that supporters of government intervention are like robots?
P. 416: not quite right - welfare puts many people "at leisure" who do no learning.
p. 441: defines science fiction
p. 442: invents internet schools
p. 453: his robots were made as tools
p. 455: genesis of the Three Laws of Robotics; he makes a big deal out of the convention that other writers can USE the laws, but not QUOTE them directly.
p. 455: "clear ambiguities" - plots lie in the ambiguities of the laws or their application: what is the balance?
p. 456: humanity vs. individuals - which one gets the preference if harm must be done to one or the other, in the robot's view, or by order of a human? important if robots to be used in politics or war.
p. 458: Lays of Humanics - there are none yet, but he suggests some (what about religion and ethics?)
p. 459: robots think ethical humans should make life easier for the robots by removing ambiguities.
p. 460: shows one of the ambiguities by example.
p. 461: some of his stories depend on a wide definition of "harm" (leads to the Nanny Universe)
(that's the problem with definitions: either "it's all just word" or "it's not just words")

p. 466: cyborgs of two kinds (1) a human brain in a mechanical body; or (2) a robot brain in a biological body.
p. 468: proving someone is human because they disobey the First Law.
p. 470: self-awareness (compare Greg Bear's book, "Slant").
p. 472: humor is typically human (compare Spock, Data in the Star Trek series)
p. 473: "It is my feeling, to put it as succinctly as possible, that the one necessary ingredient in every successful joke is a sudden alteration in point of view. The more radical the alteration, the more suddenly it is demanded, the more quickly it is seen, the louder the laugh and the greater the joy."
p. 474: why robots can't have a sense of humor: "Now, if a robot is designed to have a brain that responds logic only (and of what use would any other kind robot brain be to humans who are hoping to employ robots for their own purposes?), a sudden change in point of view would be hard to achieve. It would imply that the rules of logic were wrong in the first place. or were capable of a flexibility that they obviously don't have. In addition, it would be dangerous to build ambivalence into a robot brain."...
"In fact, some jokes actually depend on the illogical responses of human beings." ( )
  librisissimo | Feb 20, 2012 |
NIL
  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
This was a pretty short read -- in fact I read it on the bus into work this morning. That's mainly because there are only three short stories in this book which aren't covered in one of Asimov's other robot short story collections. The three stories were good, but I am not sure they were worth owning the entire book for.

http://www.stillhq.com/book/Isaac_Asimov/Robot_Visions.html ( )
  mikal | Nov 15, 2008 |
The counterpart to Robot Dreams is inferior as far as the fiction quality goes, but does have a whole lot of essays at the end by Asimov on the subject of robots, and the future in general. One interesting comment was that something as simple as worldwide computer communication could change the world, when he was writing about education.

Quite a few of the essays are to do the the Laws of Robotics in particular, and robots in society. So, fairly interesting.

Robot Visions : Robot Visions - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Too Bad! - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Robbie - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Reason - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Liar! - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Runaround - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Evidence - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Little Lost Robot - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : The Evitable Conflict - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Feminine Intuition - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : The Bicentennial Man [short story] - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Someday - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Think! - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Segregationist - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Mirror Image - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Lenny - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Galley Slave - Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions : Christmas Without Rodney - Isaac Asimov

Time check bad news.

2.5 out of 5

Shrinkbot surgery sacrifice.

3 out of 5

Robot chasey and other games.

3.5 out of 5

Robot curiosity of philosophy.

3.5 out of 5

Telepathic robot advice is caught in logic loop.

3.5 out of 5

Old robot mine retrieval squad.

4 out of 5

Politics and impersonation.

3.5 out of 5

Monkeying with the Laws can have surprising results.

4 out of 5

Politics of The Machine.

3 out of 5

Girlbot creativity communication.

3.5 out of 5

Robot evolution legal test case.

4 out of 5

Writing? You jest.

2.5 out of 5

Computer brain power talk.

3 out of 5

Metallo wannabes.

3 out of 5

Jehosaphat! Deadly mathematical rivalry.

3 out of 5

Robot teaching mummy.

3.5 out of 5

Proofreading plus.

3.5 out of 5

Old versions can still provide good cheer.

3 out of 5

http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2007/11/dead-past-isaac-asimov.html ( )
1 vote bluetyson | Nov 19, 2007 |
An interesting collection of short stories and essays. Some of the stories are repeats from collections like "I, Robot" and "The Bicentennial Man, and other stories", so be prepared to run into those. All the stories included are good reads! My personal favorites are "Lenny" and "The Bicentennial Man". ( )
  Redthing | Mar 25, 2007 |
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Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McQuarrie, RalphIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451450647, Mass Market Paperback)

From the writer whose name is synonymous with the science of robotics comes five decades of robot visions-36 landmark stories and essays, plus three rare tales-gathered together in one volume.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Contains 36 short stories and essays on robots.

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