Novembeer 8, 2021
Reflections, Day 31
The Three Laws of Robotics:
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 the orders given 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: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”
― Isaac Asimov, I Robot
In 1969 I was an idealist new public school teacher. I was hired to be a teacher of English. One of the innovational teachers had arranged for the school to have a rolling book rack provided by a local book distributor. It was a good deal for everybody, too. The distributor got to sell more books and our English program was able to purchase the books at wholesale. We designated a book day for each of the English teachers and, in my class, we got the rack on Friday so that day was dedicated to reading.
We wanted the kids to read. We didn’t care that it wasn’t Chaucer or Shakespeare or even William Blake, we just wanted those kids to read. After introducing the books and finding each student a book that he or she would really “get into,”
they did get into it and a lot of students who had never read a book before became avid readers. I’ve since run across two or three students from those days and each of them told me that the “reading day program” gave them an appreciation for reading. We used the profit from the books we sold to start a fund which would buy books for those who could not afford the paperback books that sold for fifty cents or a dollar.
One day, a seventh-grade boy came up to me with a book in his hand. He asked, “Mr. Schulz, did you ever read this book?” I told him I had not.
“Then you ought to,” he said. “It’s really good.”
I took the book and read it. The name of the book was Foundation, and I was totally captivated. I read a trilogy about the Galactic Empire. Isaac Asimov became one of my favorite authors. He could see the future and then could paint us a picture with so much detail that we felt like we were there.
Asimov wrote a series, also, about humanoid robots. I think he started his Robot series in the late 1930s. He predicted trips to other planets and a computer that was unbelievably small—about the size of our telephone. I followed the Foundation Series and the Robot Series until they merged in a fascinating manner.