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What Are Your Three Laws?

July 21, 2021

First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

– Three Laws of Robotic by Isaac Asimov

I watched iRobot. The new one with Will Smith. (Yes, I know it was 2004, that’s still new. Of course, I know it’s almost two decades. We are getting off track. Who’s writing this anyway?)

Isaac Asimov used the three laws as the basis for much of his writing. He introduced them in a short story called Runaround) in 1942. Interestingly it wasn’t Asimov who first came up with the term “robot.” That was the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. He first used it in his 1920 play, R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots.

The three laws, in Asimov’s stories are unbreakable. They are the foundation of the robots’ brains. Of course, just because they can’t be broken doesn’t mean that robots will behave as you would think. That’s what makes the stories interesting, including the most recent (okay, yes, it was 17 years ago!) version.

It got me thinking, what are your underlying laws? As humans, we are all different, and of course, there is no unifying set of laws. “Human nature” is a varied as humans themselves.

So, we each build our own world, our own logic. What rules govern your life?

For some, it could be “family above all.” That ones not for me, although I love my family. But, there are times when I’ve had to separate, or I’ve chosen to separate from family.

Some people put truth above all else. Most of us don’t Truth, absolute truth is difficult to practice.

“Does this dress make me look fat?”

“How did you like the veteran lasagna?”

“Isn’t she just the cutest baby?”

I’m going to lie more often than tell the truth to these questions.

I’m not sure there are absolute laws. Maybe fidelity to a spouse. That’s one that I could see people being unwavering on.

I think my first law would be Loyalty. I put a great premium on loyalty. Loyalty to people, none necessarily ideas or political parties. Also, I’m not talking about the kind of loyalty that leads people to storm the Capital building. But, person to person loyalty.

First Law: I am loyal to my friends and expect them to be loyal to me.

I’m a seriously loyal friend.

My second law would have to be around commitments. If you say you are going to do something, you should do it. If it conflicts with loyalty, I would value loyalty first.

I’ll be home at 6:00.

It’s 6:30. What happened?

A friend needed some help.

Commitment is why I don’t renegotiate contracts. If I’ve committed to do a job for $80/hour, and later I realize that your budget was $95/hour, I’ll keep doing the job at $80. I might ask for more on the next contract, but once I’ve committed, I’m committed.

Second Law: I keep my commitments except where that commitment conflicts with the First Law.

I’m not sure of the Third Law. Or maybe I am, and I just don’t want to face it. I have a mean streak. It’s buried very deep, and most people not only have never seen, but they would be surprised to hear I have it. Revenge, that dish best served cold? I can hold it for years, decades even. A silly example is Jack In the Box restaurants. I decided in the 1980s that I found their advertising not only poor, but offensive. I thought, if good advertising should convince you to frequent an establishment, poor advertising should convince you to avoid it. And offensive advertising even more so. I haven’t set foot inside a Jack In The Box restaurant in 40 years.

There are only a couple of people in my background that I hold any animosity toward. But those few will probably never get in my good graces. As a person of faith, I don’t like the fact that I can hold on to negative emotions like that. And as a person who’s been through plenty of therapy, it’s more than a little worrisome that there’s a part of me that I keep locked away.

It seems wrong to make revenge or distrust, or whatever it is that I hold deep in the darkest parts of my soul, as a personal law. But, I have to admit that it definitely influences my life.

What are your personal Laws? What makes you who you are? What rules govern your life?

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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