60 years ago, Isaac Asimov imagined the impact AI would have on our world; only now can we appreciate the prophetic accuracy of his predictions. In five moments, we join one woman’s journey as she lives through the rise of robots.
Featuring Hermione Norris, Brendan Coyle, Derek Riddell and Nicholas Briggs
Dramatised for radio by Richard Kurti
Producer/Director Andrew Mark Sewell
A B7 Production for BBC Radio 4
“We’ve always been fans of I, Robot, Asimov’s classic of speculative fiction,” says producer/director, Andrew Mark Sewell. “It’s a timeless commentary on the relationship between humans and technology; an allegory of how we treat others who are not like us. But it’s also a cracking story, with a unique perspective. Given that the original stories were written some 60 years ago it’s a tribute to Asimov’s extraordinary vision that they remain so pertinent and perhaps even more prescient than ever. Our march towards a society ever more reliant on robots and in particular AI technology, makes Asimov’s morality tale of humans and robots seem ever closer. The world he imagined is now upon us.”
The rise of robotics in the 21st century, told through the poignant and mysterious story of enigmatic lawyer, Stevie Byerley.
As a girl, her strongest emotional bond is formed with a robotic childminder rather than her parents. As a young woman, she is involved in a catastrophic car accident, and is only saved by the use of state of the art, and secret technology.
On recovery, Stevie becomes a Legal Psychologist and devotes her life to robotics. She defends robots which have developed dangerous religious delusions; she helps those that have become unstable because their fundamental programming has been tampered with; she sympathises with those who have developed freakish and supernatural powers.
Through all this, Stevie becomes acutely aware of the delicate balance between humans and the artificial intelligences they have created.
Only in the final episode do we learn the truth about Stevie’s agenda, and the way in which she has changed human civilization forever.
Written over 60 years ago, Isaac Asimov’s stories are moving closer to reality every day. The world he imagined is just around the corner …
Dramatised for radio by Richard Kurti.
Episode 1: Robbie Stevie Byerley is raised by a robotic childminder. The powerful bond she forms with the robot is unbreakable. Their relationship will change the course of her life. Stevie Byerley Hermione Norris George Byerley Derek Riddell Grace Byerle Dianne Weller Robbie Kelly Burke Tour Guide Rob Blackwood Young Stevie Mia Burgess Other roles played by members of the cast
Episode 2: Reason After recovering from a devastating car crash, Stevie returns to work as a Legal Psychologist. Her first case is to reason with a robot that has developed a Messiah complex. Stevie Byerley Hermione Norris Quinn Brendan Coyle Powell Doug Devaney Cutie Nicholas Briggs
Episode 3: Little Lost Robot A rogue robot goes AWOL on a space station after its rules of behaviour (defined by the three Laws of Robotics) are reprogrammed… with potentially lethal consequences. Stevie Byerley Hermione Norris Quinn Brendan Coyle Major Kallner Kelly Burke Doctor Black Gary Turner Psychiatrist Diane Spencer Nestor Robots Nicholas Briggs
Episode 4: Liar! Stevie is summoned to a research lab in Siberia, where a robot has developed the ability to read human minds… with far reaching consequences for the emotional lives of everyone. Stevie Byerley Hermione Norris Quinn Brendan Coyle Andrea Ashe Corrinne Wicks Doctor Lanning Michael Cochrane SZ-34 Dianne Weller
Episode 5: The Evitable Conflict Stevie meteoric rise to political power leads to a final showdown with Quinn, and reveals the secret that has shaped her life and changed the course of human civilization. Stevie Byerley Hermione Norris Quinn Brendan Coyle Doctor Derek Riddell Legal Secretary Diane Spencer Tour Guide Rob Blackwood Other roles played by members of the cast
Original Music Imran Ahmad Studio Manager Wilfredo Acosta Sound Design Alistair Lock Editorial Consultant Bev Doyle Script Editor Colin Brake Development Producer Patrick Chapman Producer/Director Andrew Mark Sewell
A B7 Production for BBC Radio 4
About the Dramatisation
The obvious question is what it means to be human. But I, Robot also asks a question more pertinent to our imminent future. What does it mean to be an artificial intelligence that can think and feel, in a world designed for humans? What kind of society are humans building, and are we prepared to live in a post-human world? Might self-aware machines replace us in the workplace, in the bedroom, on the battlefield? What happens when the relationships we have with our machines go deeper than those with our fellow humans? B7’s dramatisation of I, Robot repositions these questions in the context of our oncoming future. Whilst staying true to the characters, themes and stories of Asimov’s original, we craft a modern, entertaining drama that speaks directly to the concerns of today’s listeners.
The Three Laws of Robotics
Asimov’s stories, and the wealth of robot tales his originals inspired, centre on the conflict inherent in his Three Laws of Robotics. What happens when a robot disobeys them, or a human takes advantage of them? The stories Stevie Byerley (Hermione Norris) relates, all hinge on these laws and their effects, intended or otherwise.
First Law of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law of Robotics: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law of Robotics: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.