I, Robot

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The three laws of Robotics: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm 2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. With this, Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact & science fiction that became Asmiov's trademark.
Curriculet Details
78 Questions
85 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for 9th grade students contains interactive videos exploring imagery, theme, allusion, and the elements of science fiction. It also contains annotations describing character motivation, complex plot events, and reader inferences. Students will explore the theme of man's fear of and interaction with technology. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Even though this chapter is titled "Introduction," it is important to read. Our story has begun. Here we have the setting: It is the year 2057 and the company U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men Inc. has been in operation for seventy-five years. Clearly this story is science fiction because it takes place in the future. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Use the Define feature on the word "interplanetary." Using the context clues in this sentence, what is the Interplanetary Press? 
Here is a picture of this futuristic city from the movie adaptation of I, Robot.  (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator refers to himself as I. He is a reporter for the Interplanetary Press, and is a character in the novel. What do we call this type of narrator? 
In fiction a flashback is when the reader glimpses events that happened in the past. 
Use the Define feature on the word "nursemaid." Robbie was designed to care for __________________. 

Chapter 1

Describe what Robbie and Gloria are doing and then give two examples of how Robbie is caring well for Gloria. 
Isaac Asimov was a biochemist and a science fiction writer. His novel I, Robot was published in 1950. His projection that we might be exploring Mars in the future was a real stretch back then, but now we have rovers on Mars. Watch this video about many of the predictions Asimov made that are close to being true. (This annotation contains a video)
According to Mrs. Weston, she first agreed to having Robbie care for Gloria for what reasons? 
What is the First Law of Robotics? 
What evidence do you have so far that the Westons are wealthier than most families? Provide at least two details from the text. 
What might a "beautiful visivox show" be a futuristic version of?  
The Westons buy Gloria a collie. During the 1950s, Lassie was a famous collie both in fiction and in film.  (This annotation contains an image)
The writer uses a great deal of figurative language. Watch the video below for a quick review of some of the most common forms of figurative language. Do you recognize any on this page?  (This annotation contains a video)
We can infer that a gyro is a type of _______________. 
Explain how Mrs. Weston's plan has backfired. 
This is the past for us now, but when this book was published in 1950, it was far into the future. Because this book takes place in the future and deals with technology that was not present during the time it was written, it is classified as science fiction.  (This annotation contains an image)
List two new forms of entertainment that this future world has. 
Make a prediction. Who do you think Gloria will find on the third floor? 
So this girl in the room with Gloria was the young Susan Calvin. 
Pince-nez are glasses that are held by a cord and fit snugly on the bridge of one's nose. (This annotation contains an image)
This chapter ends similarly to the way the Introduction ended: by leading into a new story. What will Chapter 2 be about? 

Chapter 2

Use the Define feature for the word "platitudes." Another word that would effectively replace "platitudes" in this sentence is which of the following? 
Selenium is a chemical element used in photocells. Its symbol is SE and its atomic number is 34. 
We can infer that a certain character trait is important to Gregory Powell. What is it? 
Use the Define feature on the word syllogism. Below is probably the most famous syllogism.  (This annotation contains an image)
Powell and Donovan's main conflict at this point is best described as which type of conflict? 
Using context clues and your understanding of word parts, explain what insosuits are and what they are used for. 
These older, more primitive robots may look something like this.  (This annotation contains an image)
The setting of this chapter is the planet Mercury in 2015. Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan are on a Second Expedition of Mercury since the first one back in 2005 failed. The primary danger facing these two men at this point is that the newly designed robot, Speedy, has failed to bring back selenium which is found in pools on Mercury. Apparently selenium is needed to block the sun. (Mercury, as you know, is the smallest planet and the closest to the sun).  (This annotation contains an image)
This is an allusion to one of Shakespeare's plays, the tragedy Macbeth. When the expression "Lead on, Macduff" is used, it means for someone to take the lead. Actually, the expression is a misquote from the play, as Macbeth really says, "Lay on, Macduff," which means for Macduff to attack.  (This annotation contains an image)
If you're on Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, harnessing solar energy would indeed produce a great deal of power. 
The writer uses a great deal of imagery here since his purpose is to describe. Watch the video below on imagery. As you continue reading, take notice of when and why the writer uses imagery. (This annotation contains a video)
Gilbert and Sullivan were a theatrical duo who performed comedic operas during the late nineteenth century. Some of their more famous operas were The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, Patience, and Iolanthe. (This annotation contains an image)
We learned this first fundamental law in the previous chapter. 
For review, list the three laws for robots by putting them into your own words. 
In other words, Speedy didn't go get the selenium because it knew doing so was putting itself in danger. 
This is an example of what type of figurative language? 
Remember, Law 2 is that a robot must obey orders as long as they don't involve harming a human. Law 3 states that a robot must protect himself. Speedy is so off-kilter because of the poisonous gases, that he keeps going back and forth between Law 2 and Law 3. 
Cyanide in any form will kill a person. Taking cyanide is sometimes used in suicide missions. 
14 x 14 x 14 = 2744. Clearly, Powell is the type of character who will put himself in danger first. 
Why does Powell say, "Won't it be a pleasure?" 

Chapter 3

Powell and Donovan are now at the Solar Station #5, checking on an experimental robot. 
"Cutie" is what they call this QT-1 robot. Remember "Speedy" was SPD 13. 
What has Cutie been designed to do? 
Descartes was a famous French philosopher and mathematician. One of his most remembered quotes is "I think, therefore I am."  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on Cutie's reasoning, Donovan and Powell could not have made him. Why? 
What are the robots doing? 
Robots with red eyes look much more menacing.  (This annotation contains an image)
Cutie believes Earth is _________________. 
This means that Cutie uses reason alone to understand. A priori knowledge does not require proof or evidence; it is understood simply by reason. 
Cutie is genuinely sad because he thinks Powell and Donovan are heading into death since he doesn't believe Earth exists. 
Quiz #1 

Chapter 4

So now Powell and Donovan are on an asteroid, supervising the function of the multiple robot. 
Explain what Donovan is referring to when he mentions "religious mania" and "running around in a circle spouting Gilbert and Sullivan." 
What is DV-5's job? 
Using context, a "visiplate" is probably something like a 
Now we understand the meaning of this chapter's title. 
So far in the novel, the main conflict posed by the robots is malfunction. Watch the movie trailer for 2004's I, Robot. Explain what the main conflict is in the movie version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtG-vK88K0Q 
This means that it is _____________ to jump high on this asteroid. 
If we consider this situation with Dave and the earlier situation with Cutie, maybe the domination of humans is an emerging theme in this novel. Watch the video on emerging themes. Then be alert for plot details that further develop this theme.  (This annotation contains a video)
According to Donovan and Powell's theory, when does Dave act out? 
Read again about the four occasions when Dave and his subsidiaries have acted strangely. What do they seem to have in common? 
We can infer that Donovan's lines here reflect ____________________. 
When Dave stops and he and the robots do their "thing," what do Powell and Donovan suspect Dave is forming? 
This paragraph contains which type of figurative language? 
This is an allusion to mythology. The River Styx must be crossed when you die, before entering the Underworld, according to mythology. Allusions are indirect references in literature to a person, place, event, or another passage of literature. For a further discussion of allusions, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
In an effort to create an emergency situation for the robots, Powell and Donovan are now trapped in the mine. 
Using your own words, what is Donovan saying to Powell here? 
This is complicated, but here is what Powell has discovered. When there is an emergency, the six robots Dave is in charge of are no longer easy for him to supervise, so Dave's initiative to do his job increases to a point that triggers a malfunction. When humans show up during this malfunction, Dave's initiative is automatically decreased because the humans are there to help. In this case, though, Powell just eliminated one of the six robots and that decreased Dave's initiative which also set him straight again. When you encounter something while reading that you don't understand, first determine if it is really necessary for you to understand. If it is, go back and reread that section again slowly. 
I'm sure you've noticed that the structure of this novel is quite unique. In many respects it is more like a series of connected short stories, all dealing with robots and this particular company that creates them. Ray Bradbury wrote a similar novel in 1950 titled The Martian Chronicles which has a similar structure. It is actually a series of short stories all about the colonization of Mars. Add it to your "Must Read" list!  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain why the writer is using italics here. 

Chapter 5

You should take notice that this is a new character. 
Here is another new character. 
Why is Bogart so specific with his numerical details, like when he says "seventy-five thousand, two-hundred and thirty-four"? 
Why is Dr. Calvin looking at Ashe so intently? Critical readers pick up on even the most subtle body gestures of characters. Sometimes it means nothing, but many times it is the writer using foreshadowing. Watch the video below on foreshadowing then be alert for Dr. Calvin's reactions to Ashe.  (This annotation contains a video)
RB-34 has the unintended ability of doing what? 
Did you catch that? She watched Ashe as he left the room and she's clearly thinking something. 
Dr. Calvin must be "in love" with someone and Herbie knows it. She is worried that this man does not think of her as anything but a doctor. Could it be Ashe? 
This sentence seems to be an example of which literary device? 
Do you think Herbie lied to Dr. Calvin, just to toy with her emotions? Maybe Ashe doesn't love her at all. Herbie does like mushy, sentimental novels, doesn't he? Now think about the title of this chapter. 
Make a logical prediction about what you think Bogart might want to ask Herbie. 
We can't believe Herbie, can we? He may be playing with all of these humans just for the sheer drama of it. 
The word part "tele" means to transmit over a distance. The root "path" can mean feelings, suffering, or disease. Telepathy has something to do with the transmission of feelings. List three more words that contain the root "path" either referring to feelings, suffering, or disease. 
Who is most likely playing a game? 
Herbie claims, "I had to!" Think for a minute. What might be Herbie's motivation to "toy" with these scientists? 
Irony is when something is the opposite of what's expected. Which statement explains the "irony" that Dr. Calvin mentions here? 
So Herbie lied to each of the scientists because he knew the truth would hurt them.  
Below is a piccolo. Click on the link to hear what the piccolo sounds like.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 6

So we're back to the "present" of this novel where the narrator, a newpaper journalist, is listening to stories from Dr. Calvin about the robots of U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men, Inc.  
In other words, Dr. Calvin is saying in response to the general's explanation, "So what?!" She doesn't understand why this is a problem. 
What does this mean could happen? 
What important detail in this paragraph develops the problem of the NS-2 models being indistinguishable from each other? 
The second part of this law means that robots will not stand by and allow a human to put himself/herself in danger. 
This is a reference to the famous literary medical student, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who wanted to create life and did so by building a "creature" from lifeless body parts and using electricity. This novel, of course, is Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. What do you call this literary device? 
If it is true that the Nestor went and got lost because of Black's comment, it means the robot took the command ___________________. 
Explain why Dr. Calvin thinks this is "horribly frightening." 
Curiosity can often lead to trouble. What figurative language is used here to show how dangerous curiosity can sometimes become? 
They are testing Dr. Calvin's experiment to see if the robots will in fact step in to save the human from being crushed. 
Let's review how the First Law has been modified for the Nestor 10: They still are not allowed to harm a human. However, the second part of the First Law has been modified in that they do not necessarily have to prevent a human from harming himself. 
Uh-oh! All but one of the robots should have moved to intervene, but none did. What does this mean? 
Based on this last scene, we can infer which of the following. 
This means that the more Nestor 10 outwits the humans, the more he will want to continue doing it. 
Not only is Dr. Calvin threatening to resign, but she's also threatening to  
Once again, the conflicts with the robots revolve around the Three Laws of Robotics. 
So Nestor 10 was not acting out of being devious. He was taking his orders literally.  
Quiz #2 

Chapter 7

Based on context, Consolidated must be another ___________________. 
This means that Consolidated Company is trying to do what to U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men? 
Read this page again and in your own words explain U.S. Robot's plan. 
The scientists are getting nervous because the Brain is still processing all of the information. They were hoping that the Brain would stop as soon as it hit a dilemma. 
It looks like Mike Donovan and Greg Powell are back. 
Maybe the new space warp machine looks like this.  (This annotation contains an image)
This may be a play on words referring to a famous quote by Julius Caesar. "I came, I saw, I conquered."  (This annotation contains an image)
Do you have a prediction? 
Where are Powell and Donovan? 
Pollyanna, the main character from a 1913 novel by the same name, is an extremely innocent and happy little girl. The name Pollyanna is often used to indicate someone who is very optimistic. As it is used here, then, it is an example of what literary device? 
"Inter" means between and "stellar" refers to stars, so interstellar means "between the stars." Use the Define feature on interstellar and then complete the sentence. An interstellar trip would be __________________. 
Use the Define feature on the word "Beelzebub." Then choose which word is most likely "Sa--"? 
What Powell and Donovan are hearing is confusing, but it seems to be related to death and heaven or hell. 
The word part "circum" is also present in the word circumnavigate and circumference. What does circum mean? 
Dr. Calvin must have figured something out that relieves her worries. We just don't know what it is yet. 
Explain why the title for this chapter, "Escape," is appropriate. Use details from the text to support your answer.  
Donovan's request will ensure that Consolidated will do what? 

Chapter 8

So in Asimov's future, America will merely be a part of the Northern Region. 
This is a reference to the bloody Battle of Austerlitz , the most decisive battle of the Napoleonic wars.  (This annotation contains an image)
Is Quinn implying that Mr. Byerley is a robot? 
Except for the first chapter with Gloria and Robbie, robots have been prohibited for use on Earth. 
We can assume from this chapter that robots cannot  
Q.E.D. stands for the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum" which means "to have been proven." It is used to mean that something has been proved to be true. 
Lanning has a point, doesn't he? All Byerley has to do is eat where people can see him just one time. 
What is Dr. Calvin implying with this statement? 
So now, even though Byerley just ate a bite of the apple, we still don't know whether or not Byerley is a robot. Dr. Calvin makes a good argument that if he were a robot, it would be much harder to tell. 
Here Byerley is using the idiom "Giving someone enough rope to hang himself." This means allowing someone the means to sabotage himself.  
List two things you know about John and one prediction about who he is. 
In other words, if Byerley is a robot, it would be easy for him to follow the laws. However, only a human would be able to actually break one of the three laws. 
In your own words, explain how Byerley could be a robot and still act as a district attorney. 
In this paragraph the writer uses a metaphor to compare the nomination of Byerley to  
In this matter what is Byerley using to his advantage? 
What technology do we have today that is closest to a "visorphone"? 
Have you ever heard the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity? Byerley is telling Quinn that this scandal has actually made Byerley even more well-known. 
Using details from the text, explain why most readers will like Byerley and dislike Quinn.  
We can infer that Lenton, Byerley's campaign manager, has probably tried to convince Byerley to  
Do you have a prediction? Do you think the man who dared Byerley to hit him was a set up, put into action by Dr. Calvin? 
So Dr. Calvin did not set it up. Byerley set up a situation that made it very likely to happen. 
According to Asimov's future view, the world will have a leader and then later will be ruled by Machines. 

Chapter 9

Does something you as odd about the title of this chapter? Why or why not? 
Dr. Calvin is referring to the French Revolution. 
"A deus ex machina" literally means "god from machine." It was used in Greek theater when a god is suddenly brought into a play to miraculously solve the major conflict. This expression often refers to a plot device weak writers sometimes use to easily get them out of a complicated plot. It's looked on as "cheating" and is usually disappointing to a reader when the writer does this. 
It seems that Byerley suggests that the Machines are so advanced that they are beyond human control. 
Remember, the Fundamentalists have always been "anti" robot. 
Use the Define feature on the word "sinecure." Which of the following modern day positions is essentially a sinecure? 
Based on this paragraph, the largest hydroponic crop in the East most likely produces what food? 
Did you know that we do very similar things with corn? Corn is the basis for thousands of different foods and products. Click on the link and quickly scan the list of just some of the everyday items made with corn. List five items that really surprised you.http://www.kycorn.org/documents/cornuses.pdf 
In this almost perfect world economic system, competition is seen as harmful. What form of economic system favors competition? 
This mosquito often carries malaria. 
Perhaps Villafranca was purposely trying to sabotage something. The Society of Humanity is associated with the Fundamentalists. 
The European Region of this futuristic view seems to represent the old Western and Ancient worlds of our own past. 
Look at the map and find the United Kingdom. It does look somewhat like a tongue "licking at Europe."  (This annotation contains an image)
This was probably true at the time this novel was written, but do you think it is true today? 
The Machines, as explained by Mackenzie, only deal with quantitative data and not what? 
In your own words, explain the motive Byerley gives for each of the four regions to want to assume the most power. 
Byerley's conclusion is that who or what is responsible for all of the recent problems? 
Now we have an explanation of the title of this chapter. What is odd about the title is the word evitable, which is rarely used without the prefix "in" meaning "not." Explain the appropriateness of the title as Dr. Calvin has just explained why the Machines are the best thing for mankind. 
Quiz #3