The original Three Laws of Robotics were introduced by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in his 1942 short story “Runaround.” Their purpose was to provide a set of rules to govern the behavior of robots, dictating that a robot’s actions always ensured the safety and well being of humans before their own.
In his 1985 novel Robots and Empire he introduced the Zeroth Law, so-named because it was meant to take precedence over the original three. Although added much later, the Zeroth Law is often included when the now misnomered Three Laws of Robotics are cited.
Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws are:
- A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given 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 Laws.