Friday, May 04, 2012

The laws of humanics

"Human beings have ways of thinking about human beings that we have not." Had Giskard been human, the remark might have been made with regret or envy, but, since he was a robot, it was merely factual.

He went on, "I have tried to gain the knowledge, if not the way of thinking, by reading human history in great detail. Surely somewhere in the long tale of human events, there must be buried the Laws of Humanics that are equivalent to our Three Laws of Robotics."

Daneel said, "Madam Gladia once told me that this hope was an impossible one."

"So that may be, Friend Daneel, for though it seems to me such Laws of Humanics must exist, I cannot find them. Every generalization I try to make, however broad and simple, has its numerous exceptions. Yet if such Laws existed and if I could find them, I could understand human beings better and be more confident that I am obeying the Three Laws in better fashion."

"Since Partner Elijah understood human beings, he must have had some knowledge of the Laws of Humanics."

"Presumably. But this he knew through something that human beings call intuition, a word I don't understand, signifying a concept I know nothing of. Presumably it lies beyond reason, and I have only reason at my command."

— from Robots and Empire, by Isaac Asimov.
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