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Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov
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Title:Robot Visions
Authors:Isaac Asimov
Info:Roc (1996), Reissue, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov

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This is a retrospective collection of many of Asimov's most famous and significant robot short stories that were written and published over a period of half a century, including seven of the nine stories in his classic "I, Robot" collection, from his first imagination of a robot childminder in 1939's "Robbie", through the early articulation of the three laws of robotics in "LIar" and "Runaround", and later examinations where loopholes in the laws drive some ingenious plots. One story features the return of Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw from the classic robot novels "The Caves of Steel" and "The Naked Sun". There is one new story in the collection, the title story which, unusually for Asimov, features time travel. The book is topped off by a collection of Asimov's short essays and articles, again published over a period of several decades, on his thoughts about how real robots might work, and how they might relate to humans and improve our life experiences. This sequence begins with a 1954 article on his approach to the conceptualisation of robots in his fiction compared to the approaches of earlier authors. The other articles are from the 1970s and 1980s, fascinatingly exploring the relationship between the fictional and real development of robots and computers. Asimov's writing is never less than engaging and the length of his writing career and his prolific output during 50 years of huge technological advance enable much interesting reflection and speculation about both positive and negative human reactions to technology.

Finally, the stories contain a number of slightly odd illustrations of robots depicted in various scenes, but nearly all of which look exactly the same, not matching the very varied descriptions of robots given in the stories, which in fictional terms take place over probably two or three centuries of human development of robots. ( )
  john257hopper | Feb 3, 2018 |
Many of the classic stories from I, Robot and several of the newer ones from the 1970s and 80s. Worth the time for an Asimov fan or classic Science fiction fan. ( )
  steve12553 | Jun 7, 2016 |
Substance: Because these are stories of philosophy, psychology, and detection as much as they are stories of science, they out-live the anachronisms 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".
"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?

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 |
  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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cortina, LorenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McQuarrie, RalphIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McQuarrie, RalphCover artistsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:00 -0400)

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Contains 36 short stories and essays on robots.

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