Conceptual overview[ edit ] Asimov remained vague about the technical details of positronic brains except to assert that their substructure was formed from an alloy of platinum and iridium. They were said to be vulnerable to radiation and apparently involve a type of volatile memory since robots in storage required a power source keeping their brains "alive". Within his stories of robotics on Earth and their development by U. A positronic brain cannot ordinarily be built without incorporating the Three Laws; any modification thereof would drastically modify robot behavior.
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Plot summary[ edit ] In the twenty-first century the creation of the positronic brain leads to the development of robot laborers and revolutionizes life on Earth.
Yet to the Martin family, their household robot NDR is more than a mechanical servant. The story is told from the perspective of Andrew later known as Andrew Martin , an NDR-series robot owned by the Martin family, a departure from the usual practice by U. Robots and Mechanical Men of leasing robots. However, he is much better with inanimate objects and animals and begins to display sentient characteristics such as creativity; emotion; self-awareness traditionally the province of humans.
He is taken off his mundane household duties, for which he was intended, and allowed to pursue his creativity, making a fortune by selling his creations. Andrew seeks legal protection stemming from his initial creative output and eventual full recognition as a human, by gradually replacing his robotic components with synthetic organs, and citing the process as a transformation from robot to human.
There is also a movement towards centralized processing, including centralized control of robots, which would avoid any more self-reflecting robots such as Andrew. Only when Andrew allows his positronic brain to "decay", thereby willfully abandoning his immortality, is he declared a human being.
This event takes place on the two-hundredth anniversary of his creation, hence the title of the novella and film. It is clearly set a number of centuries prior to the events of his novelette " Mother Earth " and the novel The Caves of Steel , during a period in which the Spacer worlds have yet to turn against the people of the Earth, and in which the U. Robots corporation is still active.
A Catalogue of Isaac Asimov's Books