“Robbie” by Isaac Asimov is a short story that takes place in 1998. When this story was written in 1965, the futuristic elements were extremely profound and one could see how the reader might agree with Asimov’s interpretation of the future. His world is detailed, including news events about manned Mars missions, futuristic technology, a technological code of ethics, or the ‘Three Laws of Robotics,’ and convincing personal relationships. However, Asimov got it backwards. Many elements in his world are still science fiction today and while robots do exist in 2010, Asimov’s robots are far more advanced in some areas and far more deficient in others. Although Asimov’s world contained many convincing elements, it was ultimately flawed and suggests that mankind’s predictions of the future are not always accurate.
Asimov’s robots are silent, expensive, metal machines with glowing red eyes. They are employed as construction workers, assembly line workers and domestic workers. Robbie, the nursemaid robot of the main character Gloria, cost the family half of a year’s income. He gives Gloria silent affection and attention while doing menial tasks for her parents. Robbie is also extremely agile, which aids him in taking care of his masters’ daughter. It would seem that even though Robbie is a bit unsightly, he does everyday functions (except for talking) with relative ease. This, however, is not the case in 2010.
In 2010, robots are very different from the expectations set in 1965. “The latest advances in technology have led to robots that look very much like humans but are mostly able to perform only limited functions.” (Bar-Cohen 12). Yoseph Bar-Cohen and David Hanson’s book ‘The Coming Robot Revolution” is very clear about this. Asimov’s robots are silent, unsightly, and fast. Robots today are rather talkative, life-like, and sluggish. Ms. Saya is a cyber-receptionist from Tokyo University that has an attitude and a temper. She recognizes seven hundred verbal responses and makes facial expressions. Osaka University and Kokoro Co. engineered Repliee, a feminine robot with five millimeters of soft and colored silicone covering its skeleton. It has moist lips, glossy hair, and eyes that slowly blink but although its appearance and gestures are life-like, it is mostly designed to sit. Sony’s robot, QRIO, however, is the first and fastest bipedal (two-legged) robot as read in the Guinness World Records from 2005. It is capable of running and can also get back up after falling. This may seem fast, but these robots are far from being commercially available. Walking requires effective control algorithms that are synchronized with a complex walking mechanism. Not to mention the fact that many of these robots simply did not exist in 1998.
In 1998, the world looked much as it does today and many things from 1965 are similar to 2010 as well. Asimov’s world, however, included technologies that are still science fiction today. He...