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Referring to "Robbie," Asminov's short story from his book, I-Robot, explain why the...

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mmazloum | Student | eNoter

Posted March 13, 2012 at 3:39 AM via web

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Referring to "Robbie," Asminov's short story from his book, I-Robot, explain why the U.S. government banned the use of robots for personal use but allowed the use of robots for extraterrestrial use.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM (Answer #1)

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It would seem that although Robbie proves himself extremely valuable in the Asminov's I-Robot, in the chapter entitled, "Robbie," by saving Gloria's life at the robot factory, it would seem that the difficulties society had with robots was the reason they were outlawed for personal use.

The first inkling of concern comes from Grace Weston, Gloria's mother. She may well be symbolic of the "non-robot element" in society. When Grace first begins to push to have Robbie removed from the household, she speaks of a fear that something might go wrong with Robbie and he might inadvertently hurt Gloria. George Weston, Gloria's dad, disagrees. He believes that the robot has proved itself by acting as it was programmed to: taking care of Gloria and keeping her safe. In addition, the First Law of Robotics would require Robbie to shut himself down before he would harm a human. George goes on:

Besides I have an engineer from U.S. Robots here twice a year to give the poor gadget a complete overhaul. Why, there's no more chance of anything at all going wrong with Robbie than there is of you or I suddenly going looney—considerably less, in fact.

George believes in the value and safety of the robot. Grace does not give up so easily, and continues to push her husband to remove Robbie from their lives:

Most of the villagers consider Robbie dangerous. Children aren't allowed near our place in the evenings.

She also shares that an ordinance has been passed that robots have a curfew and must be inside after dark. George still is not convinced. However, after endless nagging, ultimately George arranges for Robbie's removal. Gloria is devastated.

Grace's concern is focused on Gloria's dependence on a machine. She rejects it without seeing its value: for it has no "soul." Ironically, when the Westons visit the robot factory, Robbie saves Gloria's life. However, her near-miss is also caused by a robot—even though it is one that deals only with other robots.

The fear that a portion of the populace has may well influence the changes in protocol with regard to robots. The unions don't want them because they don't want to lose their jobs to machines. Mothers are afraid of them. With constant pressure, the government may "cave in" just as George did. Ultimately, they turn the robots toward working in outer-space. It would seem the government does not want to face people who don't want robots in their homes. (And people are voters, so we might assume it is a political move.)

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