Innovation

Geek Trivia: The quibble of the week for March 17, 2009

This week's quibble comes from the March 10, 2009 edition of Geek Trivia, "First down and three (laws of robotics)." TechRepublic member gary suggested that we had misquoted the number and content of Isaac Asimov's eponymous Laws.

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the March 10, 2009 edition of Geek Trivia, "First down and three (laws of robotics)." TechRepublic member gary suggested that we had misquoted the number and content of Isaac Asimov's eponymous Laws:

"While it is true that the good doctor (i.e. Isaac Asimov) started off with three laws, in some of the last novels he authored, he introduced a 'zeroth' law that states: A robot must not injure humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. This then modifies the first law to: A robot must not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm unless it conflicts with the zeroth law. The other laws must also be modified as well. Whatever the case, Isaac Asimov, IMHO, was one of the greatest authors of all time and not just in science fiction as you can find his works across the whole (now archaic) Dewey Decimal system."

Asimov did, indeed, enact a Zeroth Law of Robotics later (presumably without John Campbell's help), and I was forced to omit the reference for space. Thanks for giving me an excuse to highlight the man and his work, and keep those quibbles coming.

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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