Catch That Rabbit

"Catch that Rabbit" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the February 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the collections I, Robot (1950) and The Complete Robot (1982).

"Catch That Rabbit"
AuthorIsaac Asimov
CountryUnited States
SeriesRobot series
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inAstounding Science Fiction
Publication typePeriodical
PublisherStreet & Smith
Media typePrint (magazine, hardback and paperback)
Publication dateFebruary 1944
Preceded by"Reason"
Followed by"Liar!"

Plot summary

The recurring team of Powell and Donovan are testing a new model of robot on an asteroid mining station. This DV-5 (Dave) has six subsidiary robots, described as "fingers", which it controls via positronic fields, a means of transmission not yet fully understood by roboticists. When the humans are not in contact, the robot stops producing ore. It cannot recall the time periods when it stops mining, and states that it finds this just as puzzling as the humans do.

Powell and Donovan secretly observe the robot without its knowledge. It starts performing strange marches and dances with its subsidiaries whenever something unexpected happens - an early example of a Heisenbug (software problem). To learn more, the humans try to create an emergency situation around the robot in order to observe the precise moment of malfunction, but accidentally trap themselves in a cave-in. They eventually figure that the main robot has too many subsidiaries. The "fingers" function independently until there is a serious need of decisiveness, when the main brain has to assume 6-way-control of all "fingers", which requires an excess of initiative and causes overload. When the humans were watching, their presence reduced the initiative placed on the robot's mind, and it would not break down. To get themselves rescued, the humans shoot and destroy one of the subsidiaries. The main robotic brain can cope with five-way control, so the robots stop dancing and the First Law takes over.

Powell anthropomorphises the error as the robot twiddling its "fingers" whenever it becomes overwhelmed by its job. This is another example of Asimov's writing of robopsychology - personified by Susan Calvin - as running parallel to human psychology. At this point in I, Robot, the reader has already seen hysteria and religious mania.

External links

Preceded by:
Included in:
I, Robot
The Complete Robot
Robot series
Foundation Series
Followed by:
Asteroids in fiction

Asteroids and asteroid belts are a staple of science fiction stories. Asteroids play several potential roles in science fiction: as places which human beings might colonize; as resources for extracting minerals; as a hazard encountered by spaceships traveling between two other points; and as a threat to life on Earth due to potential impacts

I, Robot

I, Robot is a fixup novel of science fiction short stories or essays by American writer Isaac Asimov. The stories originally appeared in the American magazines Super Science Stories and Astounding Science Fiction between 1940 and 1950 and were then compiled into a book for stand-alone publication by Gnome Press in 1950, in an initial edition of 5,000 copies. The stories are woven together by a framing narrative in which the fictional Dr. Susan Calvin tells each story to a reporter (who serves as the narrator) in the 21st century. Although the stories can be read separately, they share a theme of the interaction of humans, robots, and morality, and when combined they tell a larger story of Asimov's fictional history of robotics.

Several of the stories feature the character of Dr. Calvin, chief robopsychologist at U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., the major manufacturer of robots. Upon their publication in this collection, Asimov wrote a framing sequence presenting the stories as Calvin's reminiscences during an interview with her about her life's work, chiefly concerned with aberrant behaviour of robots and the use of "robopsychology" to sort out what is happening in their positronic brain. The book also contains the short story in which Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics first appear, which had large influence on later science fiction and had impact on thought on ethics of artificial intelligence as well. Other characters that appear in these short stories are Powell and Donovan, a field-testing team which locates flaws in USRMM's prototype models.

The collection shares a title with the 1939 short story "I, Robot" by Eando Binder (pseudonym of Earl and Otto Binder), which greatly influenced Asimov. Asimov had wanted to call his collection Mind and Iron, and initially objected when the publisher made the title the same as Binder's. In his introduction to the story in Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories (1979), Asimov wrote:

It certainly caught my attention. Two months after I read it, I began 'Robbie', about a sympathetic robot, and that was the start of my positronic robot series. Eleven years later, when nine of my robot stories were collected into a book, the publisher named the collection I, Robot over my objections. My book is now the more famous, but Otto's story was there first.

I, Robot (film)

I, Robot (stylized as i,robot) is a 2004 American science fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman is from a screen story by Vintar, based on his original screenplay "Hardwired," and suggested by Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. The film stars Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, and Alan Tudyk.

I, Robot was released in North America on July 16, 2004, in Australia on July 22, 2004, in the United Kingdom on August 6, 2004 and in other countries between July 2004 to October 2004. Produced with a budget of $120 million, the film grossed $144 million domestically and $202 million in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $346 million. It received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the visual effects and acting but criticism of the plot. At the 77th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Visual Effects.

Isaac Asimov short stories bibliography

This is a list of short stories by American writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov is principally known for his science fiction, but he also wrote mystery and fantasy stories.

This list includes Asimov's Foundation short stories, which were later collected into three novels known as the Foundation Trilogy.

Liar! (short story)

"Liar!" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the May 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and was reprinted in the collections I, Robot (1950) and The Complete Robot (1982). It was Asimov's third published positronic robot story. Although the word "robot" was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), Asimov's story "Liar!" contains the first recorded use of the word "robotics" according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The events of this short story are also mentioned in the novel The Robots of Dawn written by the same author.

List of Robot series characters

The following is a list of characters in Isaac Asimov's Robot series.

Reason (short story)

"Reason" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov, first published in the April 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and collected in I, Robot (1950), The Complete Robot (1982), and Robot Visions (1990). It is part of Asimov's Robot series, and was the second of Asimov's positronic robot stories to see publication.

In 1967, this short story was adapted into an episode of British television series Out of the Unknown entitled "The Prophet". The robot costumes that were used in this particular episode of the anthology series were later re-used for the Doctor Who serial The Mind Robber. The costumes were re-painted from black to grey and yellow as they were to be shot against a completely white backdrop for the serial in question.

Software bug

A software bug is an error, flaw, failure or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways. The process of finding and fixing bugs is termed "debugging" and often uses formal techniques or tools to pinpoint bugs, and since the 1950s, some computer systems have been designed to also deter, detect or auto-correct various computer bugs during operations.

Most bugs arise from mistakes and errors made in either a program's source code or its design, or in components and operating systems used by such programs. A few are caused by compilers producing incorrect code. A program that contains a large number of bugs, and/or bugs that seriously interfere with its functionality, is said to be buggy (defective). Bugs can trigger errors that may have ripple effects. Bugs may have subtle effects or cause the program to crash or freeze the computer. Other bugs qualify as security bugs and might, for example, enable a malicious user to bypass access controls in order to obtain unauthorized privileges.

Some software bugs have been linked to disasters. Bugs in code that controlled the Therac-25 radiation therapy machine were directly responsible for patient deaths in the 1980s. In 1996, the European Space Agency's US$1 billion prototype Ariane 5 rocket had to be destroyed less than a minute after launch due to a bug in the on-board guidance computer program. In June 1994, a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter crashed into the Mull of Kintyre, killing 29. This was initially dismissed as pilot error, but an investigation by Computer Weekly convinced a House of Lords inquiry that it may have been caused by a software bug in the aircraft's engine-control computer.In 2002, a study commissioned by the US Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that "software bugs, or errors, are so prevalent and so detrimental that they cost the US economy an estimated $59 billion annually, or about 0.6 percent of the gross domestic product".

The Complete Robot

The Complete Robot (1982) is a collection of 31 of the 37 science fiction short stories about robots by American writer Isaac Asimov, written between 1939 and 1977. Most of the stories had been previously collected in the books I, Robot and The Rest of the Robots, while four had previously been uncollected and the rest had been scattered across five other anthologies. They share a theme of the interaction of humans, robots and morality, and put together tell a larger story of Asimov's fictional history of robotics. The stories are grouped into categories.

U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men

U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. is a fictional 21st century manufacturer of robots that appears in Isaac Asimov's Robot series of novels and short stories.

U.S. Robots was founded in 1982 by Lawrence Robertson. Dr. Susan Calvin was the first, and for many years, the only robopsychologist at U.S. Robots, and is the main character in many of Asimov's short stories, usually dealing with robot problems in the laboratory. In other robot stories Greg Powell and Mike Donovan, field engineers for the company, try to solve robot issues in the field. The short stories also mention Alfred Lanning and Peter Bogert, the Directors of Research (first Lanning, and then Bogert) during Calvin's time at the corporation.

The physical location of the company is unclear. Ultimately, factories are established in many parts of the world, but in one story, "Robot AL-76 Goes Astray", the main factory is said to be located in Schenectady, New York.

In "Catch that Rabbit", the company's unofficial motto is revealed to be "No employee makes the same mistake twice. He is fired the first time." The factory of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men is the only place on Earth where robots are allowed to be present in an assembled condition.

Robertson, together with associates, are constantly trying to reverse what they call the Frankenstein complex, and prove to the world that robots are in fact harmless. In one novel, however, Calvin suggests another approach: let people know of the danger, and so increase the thrill, and that way make the subject more demanded among the public.

As depicted by Asimov, the company keeps its name even after the US itself is absorbed into a bigger political unit and no longer exists as such.

The computer modem manufacturer USRobotics was named after the fictional corporation of Asimov's.

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