I, Robot

Popular culture references

In 2004 The Saturday Evening Post said that I, Robot's Three Laws "revolutionized the science fiction genre and made robots far more interesting than they ever had been before."[8] I, Robot has influenced many aspects of modern popular culture, particularly with respect to science fiction and technology. One example of this is in the technology industry. The name of the real-life modem manufacturer named U.S. Robotics was directly inspired by I, Robot. The name is taken from the name of a robot manufacturer ("United States Robots and Mechanical Men") that appears throughout Asimov's robot short stories.[9]

Many works in the field of science fiction have also paid homage to Asimov's collection. An episode of the original Star Trek series, "I, Mudd" (1967) which depicts a planet of androids in need of humans references "I, Robot." Another reference appears in the title of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "I, Borg" (1992), in which Geordi La Forge befriends a lost member of the Borg collective and teaches it a sense of individuality and free will. An episode of The Simpsons entitled "I D'oh Bot" (2004) has Professor Frink build a robot named "Smashius Clay" (also named "Killhammad Aieee") that follows all three of Asimov's laws of robotics. The animated science fiction/comedy Futurama makes several references to I, Robot. The title of the episode "I, Roommate" (1999) is a spoof on I, Robot although the plot of the episode has little to do with the original stories.[10] Additionally, the episode "The Cyber House Rules" included an optician named "Eye Robot" and the episode "Anthology of Interest II" included a segment called "I, Meatbag." Also in "Bender's Game" (2008) the psychiatrist is shown a logical fallacy and explodes when the assistant shouts "Liar!" a la "Liar!". Leela once told Bender to "cover his ears" so that he would not hear the robot-destroying paradox which she used to destroy Robot Santa (he punishes the bad, he kills people, killing is bad, therefore he must punish himself), causing a total breakdown; additionally, Bender has stated that he is Three Laws Safe. The positronic brain, which Asimov named his robots' central processors, is what powers Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as other Soong type androids. Positronic brains have been referenced in a number of other television shows including Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time... Space, Perry Rhodan, The Number of the Beast, and others.

Author Cory Doctorow has written a story called "I, Robot" as homage to Asimov,[11] as well as "I row-boat", both released in the short-story collection Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present. He has also said, "If I return to this theme, it will be with a story about uplifted cheese sandwiches, called 'I, Rarebit.'"[12]

Other cultural references to the book are less directly related to science fiction and technology. The 1977 album I Robot, by The Alan Parsons Project, was inspired by Asimov's I, Robot. In its original conception, the album was to follow the themes and concepts presented in the short story collection. The Alan Parsons Project were not able to obtain the rights in spite of Asimov's enthusiasm; he had already assigned the rights elsewhere. Thus, the album's concept was altered slightly although the name was kept (minus comma to avoid copyright infringement).[13] The 2002 electronica album by experimental artist Edman Goodrich (known, at times, to operate under the aliases of "je, le roi!" and "The Ghost Quartet") shares the title of I, Robot, and is heavily influenced by Asimovian themes. The 2009 album, I, Human, by Singaporean band Deus Ex Machina draws heavily upon Asimov's principles on robotics and applies it to the concept of cloning.[14]

The Indian science fiction film Endhiran, released in 2010, refers to Asimov's three laws for artificial intelligence for the fictional character Chitti: The Robot. When a scientist takes in the robot for evaluation, the panel enquires whether the robot was built using the Three Laws of Robotics.


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