Archive for February 4th, 2015

Why, robot, why? A technophobic Will Smith investigates mechanical murder in 2004’s frustrating ‘I, Robot’

February 4, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 4, 2015

When the science fiction action film I, Robot was released in 2004, it received reviews that I remember as being tepid at best. So it was mainly by happenstance that I picked up the movie — it was part of a combo DVD with Independence Day, the 1996 action vehicle that helped vault Will Smith into stardom.

I, Robot is based on characters and situations created by Isaac Asimov (1920–1992), the phenomenally prolific science fiction author and science essayist. Asimov may be best known for creating the three laws of robotics, which I, Robot presents in title cards at the very beginning of the movie:

Law I: A robot may not harm a human or, by inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Law II: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.

Law III: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

Many of Asimov’s tales are puzzles or mysteries, wherein one or more of the supposedly inviolable laws of robotics has apparently been breached. Ultimately, however, the author, through his agent (in a few prominent tales, that would be 35th-century Earth detective Elijah Baley), reveals that the laws remain intact. For instance, in one case, as I recall, a robot’s arm was detached and used by someone to beat a victim to death.

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