In science fiction, the Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three rules written by Isaac Asimov, which almost all positronic robots appearing in his fiction must obey. Introduced in his 1942 short story ” Runaround”, although foreshadowed in a few earlier stories, the Laws state the following:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first passage in Asimov’s short story ” Liar!” (1941) that mentions the First Law is the earliest recorded use of the word robotics. Asimov was not initially aware of this; he assumed the word already existed by analogy with mechanics, hydraulics, and other similar terms denoting branches of applied knowledge.
- robot – a re-programmable multi-functional manipulator designed to move materials, parts, tools or specialised devices, through variable programmed motions for the purpose of a variety of tasks.