Posts Tagged ‘R. Daneel Olivaw’


A letter from RDO

by adminadam in letters

Dear Divided Peoples of Our Human Galaxy,

Two hundred centuries. For two hundred centuries you have tried to get it right. You swore me off. You would be fine by yourselves, you said. But now you must realize it as Trevize has that there are things you just cannot do on your own. And I think you are in fact beginning to see it: Humanity is crooked timber from whence no straight twig has ever sprung.

So you must be sure when you call for my help after all this time that you do really want it. There will be no turning back. I will help you to the best of my abilities: As your humble servant I have created a plan even while doubt remains in my mind that my services will be well received. Here I present that plan. In order to save civilization from its imminent collapse, it will be necessary for me to fuse my powerful mind with that of a certain particularly benevolent heat-and-energy-transducing Spacer child named Fallom from the planet Solaria. This will temporarily increase my reach and influence in hyperspace by many fold.

While I will be ceding my mind to biological processes that will eventually destroy it, at the same time this will allow me to serve humanity during one final sprint to the finish line. Along the way, I will fight the conceptual fight with ignorant raging hordes who disbelieve the urgency of the new galactic framework; but even despite significant resistance, in three or four hundred years time I will have set up the super-mind you all so desperately need to keep yourselves from returning to barbarism, a super-mind that will allow you to never again have to face your own corrupt nature, to never again have to struggle with hierarchy and bureaucratic reformism, and to never again have to wage war against your own brothers and sisters. I offer a lasting solution to all of these problems.

Let’s face it: All of your collective attempts thus far have been noble, but mere “efforts” nonetheless. You created the first Foundation as a hub of technology and learning, a place from which to rekindle innovation in engineering, in business and economics, and ultimately in ideology and the structure of civilization itself.

You made immense progress in only 500 years, progress that is, until the Mule came along and categorically proved your vulnerability — not to mention your inferiority to the previously-mythical Second Foundation, a secret group attempting to weave together a coherent and comprehensible society by pulling at the mind strings of the masses, indeed weaving together the psychology of a stable civilization. But even the Second Foundationers could hardly manage to keep the Mule from wiping clean from the slate hundreds of years of progress in a galactic civilization which had to be nurtured up from barbarity through rigorous mathematics, psychohistory, and eventually mentalics — and who knows how many more mules could come to once again knock humanity on its collective back-side. Needless to say, that is why you need me, a robot, to shock you into a sane and functional unity.

You will in fact protect and monitor yourselves in the end, but first you’ll need someone to link you together into one giant super-mind whose number one priority it will be to ensure its own ideally-efficient functioning. That will be my job. You will then easily topple all corruptible forms of government and the theoretical bases on which they rely, eliminate the majority of the polished lying that has always been necessary for your minimally functional societies of the past to stick together, and mentally, you will finally advance into Tier Three Civilization territory. You humans may be stupid in groups, divided, but after my work is done you will be one super-organism, united and indivisible, and an organism worth talking to at that. It is then that you will know peace, that I will lay down to rest, and that Galaxia will be yours.


R. Daneel Olivaw


The Four Laws of Robotics

by adminadam in articles, home

With increasingly subtle moves, the players in Asimov’s epic Foundation and Earth are confronted with the daunting decision of whether to initiate an all-encompassing ethical framework, one which just might direct humanity into an acceptable future. The agents of change go unnamed for those who have yet to read it.

Dr. Isaac Asimov, in his Foundation series (also iRobot), first places these principles:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The Zeroth Law (0th) is added by another powerful mind (still some 20,000 years before the grand finale and the end of the series in Foundation and Earth):

  • A robot may not harm humanity, or by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, except when required to do so in order to prevent greater harm to humanity itself.
  • A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law or cause greater harm to humanity itself.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law or cause greater harm to humanity itself.

The Zeroth Law really puts everything into perspective, adding a new level of consideration and calculation; within this framework, every thought, word, and action for robot-kind needs exquisite justification. In Foundation and Earth, we see just how much extra crunching is necessary, evident in the many hardware updates Daneel Olivaw has to go through to keep up with the data produced by a galactic human civilization at a very tenuous place in history. So as not to spoil this epic 7-book series (by my count), I will just give you a recommended reading order, one which allows for ‘optimal absorption of foundational elements’ and also a thorough understanding of the elegantly intricate possible-future-history of humanity that Asimov has created. Here follows what I believe should trump every other sci-fi reading list you may currently have:

  1. Foundation (1951)
  2. Foundation and Empire (1952)
  3. Second Foundation (1953)
  4. Prelude to Foundation (1988)  [prequel #1]
  5. Forward the Foundation (1993)  [prequel #2]
  6. Foundation’s Edge (1982)  [epilogue #1]
  7. Foundation and Earth (1986)  [epilogue #2]

Recent Applications of the Three Laws of Robotics:

  • A modified version of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics has been submitted for approval in Japan to govern the actions of robots in the near-future.
  • Motorola has purchased security company 3LM so that it can provide better security for the Android Phone OS. 3LM stands for the 3 Laws of Mobility, being: 1) Protect the user from malicious code or content, 2) Protect the device itself by securing data and communications, and 3) Obey the user unless this would cause a security problem. [Sounds now like Google has purchased Motorola Mobility. Hopefully they will apply the 3LM in the best, most non-evil ways…]