Image of the glider from the Game of Life by John Conway
Skip to content

The Three Laws Robots Can Read

Since first discovering QR codes, I've always been a fan. I think they're a lot of fun, and I totally dig that they are effectively open and free- meaning that anyone can generate and use QR codes without fear of royalty payments, licensing restrictions, etc. I even made my own business cards out of QR Codes. Anyway, today I saw the Three Laws of Robotics in QR codes on the door frame of my physics professor and thought it was freaking awesome. I was seriously geeking out. So, I decided copy it verbatim, and hang them up in my cube, you know, just in case a robot swings by and forgets his laws, I can remind him (I'm sure he will be able to decode QR codes (do robots have gender?)). In case you forgot, here are the three laws:

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 numbers need to be in binary, because robots read binary; of course they do. Here's the result:

{ 9 } Comments

  1. Jonas using Safari 533.3 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    So where's the zeroth law? And a picture of Giskard...

  2. Aaron using Google Chrome 10.0.648.18 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Meh. The "zeroth" law is nothing more than redundant of the first law, and I'm not interested in bloating the laws with photos of fictional characters.

  3. Jonas using Safari 533.3 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Reduntant in what way? One is about protecting an individual, the other about protecting humanity as a whole. While there can (and often is) considerable overlap, enforcing the zeroth may cause extensive harm to an individual while enforcing the 1st law may cause considerable harm to humanity. If anything, those two laws often conflict with one another.

    Still, I agree with the awsome part! I'd love to see something like that on my Professor's door or noticeboard rather than quotoes from Noam Chomsky...but I guess I'm in the wrong field for that!

  4. Aaron using Google Chrome 10.0.648.18 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Yet another reason I didn't include the zeroth law. While humanity and the individual in humanity are separated, harming and individual might harm humanity. Imagine if a robot harmed or killed Martin Luther King, Jr. or Thomas Jefferson. On the reverse, what if a robot took out a few Jews while taking down Hitler and the Nazi regime?

    The laws can be in conflict as well as overlap, and I don't see why any one rule would preserve more than the other. So, meh. Besides, the original 3 are just that- the original 3, and to be honest, I don't know many that know of the zeroth law, nor the 4th and 5th (should I have included those as well?). The original 3 are pure, and I'm a purist. :)

  5. Aoirthoir An Broc using Google Chrome 8.0.552.237 on Ubuntu | February 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Just a note on CC notice, since your QR Code is actually a distribution of the original laws, they're likely covered by his copyrights and not yours. Just the same as if you had translated a story into French from Anglish.

    Course that's just my musings...

  6. Aaron using Google Chrome 9.0.597.83 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 9, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    1) I gave appropriate attribution to the source, by linking to the Wikipedia article from which I pulled.
    2) As a result, this use would fall under fair use, if it was indeed still copyrighted.
    3) The article from which I pulled the text is licensed under the same license as this post.
    4) The copyright on the short story "Runaround" was applied for before the Copyright Act of 1976, which means he would only have the copyright for 28 years, and he was allowed to renew it again for an additional 28 years, after which it would enter the public domain. As a result, "Runaround" is now public domain.

    Long story short (pun intended), I have every right to use the Three Laws of Robotics any way I please.

  7. Jonas using Safari 533.3 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 9, 2011 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    4th and 5th???? Where do they come from?? Never heard of them.

  8. Jonathan Carter using Google Chrome 9.0.597.83 on GNU/Linux | February 9, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Hmm, none of my robots can read QR codes :(

  9. Aaron using Google Chrome 9.0.597.83 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | February 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    @Jonas- Yeah, if you read the link on Wikipedia, apparently, the 4th law is "A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases" and the fifth law is "A robot must know it is a robot". Both laws were written by authors other than Asimov, so meh.

    @Jonathan Carter- Time to upgrade your robot. :)

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by toorghezi, Ivan Diego Meseguer, Jean Baptiste FAVRE, Zuissi, Lennert Holvoet and others. Lennert Holvoet said: RT @eightyeight The Three Laws Robots Can Read - http://pthree.org/2011/02/08/the-three-laws-robots-can-read/ [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anders Østhus, Arjan Waardenburg. Arjan Waardenburg said: Aaron Toponce: The Three Laws Robots Can Read: Since first discovering QR codes, I’ve always been a fan. I ... http://pthree.org/?p=1673 [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

Switch to our mobile site