Chapter one of the new translation of the science fiction classic by the man who positioned the robots as foreign workers
The three laws of robotics:
1. A robot must not harm a person, or allow a person to be harmed as a result of the robot's inaction.
2. A robot must obey a human's command unless this command contradicts the first law.
3. A robot must maintain its own existence as long as this does not contradict the first or second law.
I looked at my lists, and I didn't like them. I spent three days at "US Robots", and I could just as well have spent them at home, with the "Encyclopedia Tellurica".
I was told that Susan Calvin was born in 1982, which means she is 75 today. Everyone knows that. Accordingly, "US Robots" should also be seventy-five years old, since the year of Dr. Calvin's birth is the year that Lawrence Robertson first registered the company that eventually became the strangest industrial giant in human history. Well, everyone knows that too.
When she was twenty years old, Susan Kelvin participated in the same psycho-mathematical seminar where Dr. Alfred Lanning of "US Robots" presented the first mobile robot equipped with the ability to speak. The robot was large, clumsy, ungainly, and reeked of machine oil. It is intended for work in the planned mines on the planet Hema. But he knew how to talk and sound reasonable.
Susan said nothing at that seminar. And she did not participate in the heated debate that broke out afterwards. She was a cold girl, plain looking and faded, who protected herself from a world she didn't like with a frozen expression and a mind that broke boundaries. But as she watched and listened she felt some cool excitement stir in her. In 2003 she received a BA from Columbia University and began specializing in cybernetics.
Robertson and his positronic brain conductors overturned everything that was done in the middle of the 20th century with "calculating machines". The many miles of relays and photoelectric cells gave way to a spongy ball of plantinumiridium the size of a human brain.
She learned to calculate the variables necessary to correct possible deviations within the "positronic brain"; To build "brains" on paper whose response to external stimulation can be accurately predicted.
In 2008, she received her doctorate, joined "US Robots" as a "robopsychologist" and became the first great researcher to deal with this new science. Lawrence Robertson was still the company's president. Alfred Lanning was the head of the research department.
For fifty years she watched the change in direction of human development and its great leap forward.
Now she is about to retire, if she is even able to. At least she agreed to have someone else's name added to her office door.
These are the main things I had. I had a long list of her various publications, of patents registered in her name; I had a breakdown of her promotion dates. In short, her professional biography in great detail.
But that's not what I wanted.
For my series of articles for "Interstellar Press" I needed more than that. much more.
I told her.
"Dr. Calvin," I began, as gently as possible. "In the eyes of the public, you and 'US Robots' are identical in every respect. Your retirement will be the end of an era and..."
"Do you want the human angle?" She didn't smile at me. I think she never smiles. But her eyes were piercing, though not angry. I felt her gaze pierce my head to the back of my head, and I knew that in her eyes I was completely transparent. like everybody.
But I said, "Right."
"A human angle from the point of view of robots? This is a contradiction.”
“No, Doctor. From your point of view.”
"Well, I've already been called a robot. You must have been told that I'm not human."
True, but there was no point in confirming it.
"You don't even remember a world without robots. There were days when humanity faced the universe alone."
She got up from her chair. She was not tall, and looked frail. I followed her to the window, and we both looked out.
The offices and factories of the "US Robots" company were like a small, spacious and planned city. A landscape unfolds before our eyes like an aerial photograph.
"When I got here," she said, "I had a room in the building that stood over there, where the fire station is." She voted. "They destroyed it before you were born. I shared the room with three other people. I had half a table. We built all our robots in one building. The output was three a week. And look at us now.”
"Fifty years," I repeated the trite refrain. "It's a lot of time."
"Not looking back," she said, "you wonder how they went by so fast."
She returned to her desk and sat down. Somehow, there was no need for an expression on her face to make her look sad.
"How old are you?" wanted to know.
"Thirty-two," I said.
“If so, you don't even remember a world without robots. There were days when humanity faced the universe alone, without any friend. Now man has creatures that help him. Creatures stronger than himself, more loyal, more useful and devoted to him with all their hearts. The human race is no longer alone. Have you ever thought about it that way?”
"I'm afraid not. May I quote you?”
"You are allowed. In your eyes, a robot is a robot. mechanism and metal; electricity and positrons; Thinking and iron! Made by man, and if necessary, can be destroyed by man! But you haven't worked with them so you don't know them. They are a better breed, cleaner than us.”
I tried to push her gently. "We would like to hear some of the things you can tell us. To hear your opinion about robots. 'Interstellar press' reaches all over the solar system. A readership of three billion. Dr. Calvin, they deserve to know everything you can tell them about the robots."
There was no need to push her. She didn't hear me, but continued in the right direction.
"Perhaps they knew this from the beginning, when we were still selling robots for use on Earth only. It was even before my time. Of course, this was in the days when robots couldn't even talk. Over time they became more human, and resistance began. Naturally, labor unions came out against robotic competition in the labor market, and various currents of religious movements opposed it because of superstitions. It was all ridiculous and quite useless, but there was resistance.”
I recorded everything, word for word, on my tiny tape, and tried not to show the movement of my knuckles. With a little practice you can record accurately without having to take the little device out of your pocket.
"Here, for example, is Ruby's story," she said. "I didn't know him. It was dissolved a year before I joined the company. hopelessly out of date. But I saw the little girl in the museum..."
She fell silent, but I didn't say anything. I let her eyes widen and her thoughts wander backwards. She had a long way to go back.
"I heard about it afterwards, and I always thought of him when we were called desecrators and creators of demons and monsters. Ruby was a voiceless robot. He could not speak. It was created and sold in 1996. Those were the days before the detailed specialization, and that's how he was sold as a nanny..."
"As a caregiver..."
* "I, Robot", Isaac Asimov, translation from English: Uri Balsam, Keter