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Trivia / I, Robot

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The book by Isaac Asimov:

  • Isaac Asimov's book #002.
  • Defictionalization: U.S. Robotics, a company that manufactures dialup modems, took its name from the fictional U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men corporation featured in I, Robot, though the company has never manufactured robots itself.
  • Publisher-Chosen Title: This title copied an earlier I, Noun story by Earl and Otto Binder, which was part of the Adam Link series. Not a single story in this collection is told from the perspective of a robot. Even better, Dr Asimov is reported to have detested the title, which was forced on him by the editors.
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  • Science Marches On: At the time the book was published, it was thought that humanlike robots could be created using mathematical logic - a branch of mathematics intertwined with philosophy which involves reasoning over a logical set of rules and facts (hence the Three Laws of Robotics). This approach is known as symbolic artificial intelligence. Despite many innovations, researchers eventually found that symbolic AI alone is not enough to build humanlike robots, which led to a rise in research in connectionist artificial intelligence (AI involving deep learning from artificial neural networks)
  • Referenced by...:
    • "Impossible Dreams": A Tim Pratt short story where the protagonist discovers a video store from an alternate timeline, which includes the filmed version of Harlan Ellison's script. It won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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    • iRobot (the makers of the Roomba) chose their name back in the mid 90s, encouraging the iProduct trope. The name is a reference to this work because Dr Asimov is more famous than the Adam Link story it took the name from.
    • The Order of the Stick: Roy (as a spirit in the Afterlife Antechamber) is given copies of Frankenstein, I, Robot, Promethean: The Created and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Your Dead Body Being Used To Make A Bone Golem (But Were Afraid To Ask) by his father to "help [him] come to terms with the bad news".
    • Magnus Robot Fighter: One of the reboots focuses on a female Magnus who works as a diplomat/robopsychologist and deals with AIs mainly in cyberspace.
    • Being Human A Portal Fanfic: Doctor Susan Calvin makes a Cameo appearance at the end of a chapter.
    • Futurama: The episode "I, Roomate" involves Bender, a robot, becoming the main character's roommate.
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    • Rex Nihilo: One volume is titled Aye, Robot, which sounds like this novel.
    • Darths & Droids: #1287, where Salacious Crumb picks out C-3PO's eye, is titled "Eye, Robot".
    • The Sims: When randomizing a new Plumbot's name, suggestions include "I, P Lumbot".
    • Void Domain: A background teacher, Isaac Calvin, is named based on the author Isaac Asimov and his character Dr Susan Calvin.
    • We Happy Restaurant: The room of the Accountant includes a poster with the text "Me, Robot".
    • The Dom Reviews: When reviewing I, Robot, he compares it to the original book.
  • The Wiki Rule: The I, Robot Wiki.
  • Working Title: Dr Asimov submitted this book under the name Mind and Iron, but publisher Gnome Press changed the title to imitate the first story in the Adam Link series.

The film:

  • Actor-Inspired Element: The decision to use Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" as Del's wake-up music came when Alex Proyas heard Will Smith rocking out to it in his trailer.
  • Actor-Shared Background: According to the newscast, Dr. Alfred Lanning was born in 1971 and was 64 when he was murdered, the same age at the time as James Cromwell.
  • Career Resurrection: Smith's first hit movie since Enemyof The State.
  • Channel Hop: The project was first acquired by Walt Disney Pictures for Bryan Singer to direct before Fox took over. It would eventually return to Disney when they bought out 20th Century Fox in 2019.
  • Creator Backlash: Proyas ended up immensely unsatisfied with the film and its production, particularly due to Executive Meddling coming from all directions.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The film was initially based on an unrelated screenplay, Hardwired, before being given the title and some surface features of the short story collection by Isaac Asimov. Granted, the dolling-up process did incorporate something like a Hollywoodized version of Asimov's Three Laws, and the final plot somewhat resembles a mish-mash of Asimov's "The Evitable Conflict" and "The Caves of Steel." Still a painfully awkward fit with Asimov's stories, though, and nothing excuses making Susan Calvin into a hot young sidekick. (Contrary to what some have said, the film bears even less resemblance to Eando Binder's "I, Robot" than Asimov's story collection, except in the basic "robot kills someone" sense.)
  • Executive Meddling: Alex Proyas had a difficult time with 20th Century Fox studio head Tom Rothman, who was threatening to remove the film's ending and replace it with "more jokes" just days before the film's premiere. Proyas intended to write a book about his experience making the film, which he describes as trying to run a marathon with the studio constantly throwing chairs in his path, but friends warned him that he'd never work in Hollywood again if he did that. Even without the tell-all, I, Robot was his last studio film.
  • Referenced by...:
    • The Black Parade: Michael asks if Jordan ever has a normal day and she replies with, "Once. It was a Thursday." The same question-and-answer occurs between Dr Calvin and Det Spooner.
    • Detroit: Become Human: Lieutenant Hank Anderson is an older version of Del Spooner, as both are detectives who harbor a hatred for androids, partly because of a personal tragedy that occurred involving them (directly or indirectly), and partly because of their completely cold and logical nature.
    • Grey Goo (2015): The behavior (and appearance) of the Valiants seem deliberately reminiscent of the humanoid helpers from the movie I, Robot. Their highest priority is the safety of others, human beings in particular, and their logic revolves around which course of action would allow them to save the most, even at the cost of their own existence.
  • Technology Marches On: The earlier-model robots are incapable of receiving software updates over the Internet, unlike the new NS5 bots. The idea of on-demand patches was relatively new when the film came out in 2004note  but became industry-standard by the end of the decade—over 25 years before the film's setting.
  • Wag the Director: When Will Smith walked into his first meeting, the first thing he said was, "I have to save the world in every movie I make." Everyone present who cherished the complexity of the script felt their hearts sink in their chest... At the movie's premiere, when the lights came up, Smith's little son turned to him and said, "Dad, you gotta stop saving the world in every movie you make!"
  • What Could Have Been
    • Harlan Ellison wrote a screenplay in The '70s (it's still in print!) which was much closer to Asimov's anthology. Unfortunately, the plot (which looked back on Susan Calvin's life in a manner deliberately similar to Citizen Kane) and the FX-heavy scenes (which included a lost city in the Amazon, several alien planets, and a duel in what would later be called cyberspace) didn't fit the producer's vision and/or budget, so it was shelved. Oddly enough, some DVDs of the 2004 film came bundled with a copy.
    • Denzel Washington was offered the lead role.
    • VIKI was originally gonna be male, but writers felt it would give away The Reveal as it would remind viewers of HAL.
    • Will Smith was asked to pen and perform a hip-hop song for the film, as he did for Men in Black and Wild Wild West. After giving it some thought, Smith decided against it, saying the song "I, Robot" which featured lyrics about the "robots comin' " to take over would take away the serious edge from the film. If it was actually made, there would have been a scene of Will/Spooner and Sonny having a dance fight.
    • Emilio Estevez and Wil Wheaton auditioned for Sonny.
    • The early Jeff Vintar drafts feature a Del Spooner who is truly suffering from technophobia. His uncontrollable shaking hand was, for many people, the key image of the story. This version of the script featured sequences in which Spooner would be chased and attacked by robots on the street, only to wake up in a hospital, told that he was suffering from a panic attack - a danger to himself and others - and the robots had no choice but to subdue him for his own safety. In this way, the audience was never sure if Spooner was onto something, or if his mental state was truly disintegrating. Likewise, the ending of the original script revealed the killer to be Hector, a supercomputer with a yellow smiley face, who committed the murder and wanted Sonny to take the fall in order to save the future of mankind. Thus when Spooner lets Sonny go free at the end, though this may be the right thing to do, Spooner knows he may in fact be condemning the human race to extinction. His hand still trembles and his robophobia is worse than ever. Such complex story elements were not allowed to remain after Will Smith signed on because, to Twentieth Century Fox's way of thinking, Will Smith always had to be right and, in the end, he had to clearly and simply save the world. Thus some of the best scenes in the script were removed and replaced with action beats. Instead of letting Sonny the robot go and hiding his still-trembling hand, in the finished film Spooner just smiles big and winks.
    • In early drafts, Sonny reads Spooner a poem he wrote: "What is the heart, but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings; and the joints, but wheels?"
    • In the early drafts, Sonny's secondary brain was made out of living tissue, making him a Self Organizing Neural Net, or "Sonny" for short. Sonny attained true consciousness the moment he discovered the dead body of his creator.
  • Word of God: Though it's not in the text proper, screenwriter Akiva Goldsmith theorized on the DVD Commentary that Calvin's absolute faith in robotics comes from having been a rape victim, believing that robots would never be irrational enough to commit such an atrocity.

The album by The Alan Parsons Project:

The game by Atari:

  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Because it was one of the earliest 3D games made and no home technology at the time was capable of rendering it's polygonal shapes (along with the general poor reception the game received because of said usage of 3D), the game never received any sort of port, even onto computers and hardware that were more than able to run it. Currently, MAME remains the only way to play I, Robot without having to find an original cabinet.


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