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Jocelyn Paine

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When the Careless Killer Robots Come

May 31, 2010

And so, to finally render the Robbie series safe, Calvin cloned Robbie III's brain into Robbie IV, reprogrammed it by inserting the Three Laws, and tested her coding by sending Robbie IV off for a test run in the neighbouring department store. Interrogating him after the ensuing bloodbath — 187 customers murdered, eleven policemen also dead — Calvin appealed, "But what about the First Law?"
"The First Law?"
"'A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.'"
"'Injure'?" cried Robbie IV, slapping his shiny metal forehead. "Good grief! I thought it read 'A robot may not inure a human being'".

I've adapted this, somewhat loosely because I no longer have the original, from an Asimov parody titled Broot Force. It's purportedly by "I-Click As-I-Move", but in fact by John Sladek in his collection of parodies and stories The Steam-Driven Boy: And Other Strangers. Thanks to David Langford's SFX magazine column It's The Law for reminding me of the parody's title, as well as the fact that the robot was actually programmed not with the Three Laws of Robotics but with Sladek's identically worded Three Laws of Robish.

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