I, Robot: The Sheriff’s Trial

Outer Limits 1963 titles logo originalA few weeks later..

How do you come off saying we did anything wrong?  It’s our job to protect the public from any menace, foreign or domestic!

I’m sorry Sheriff Barclay, but you failed to protect a thinking, feeling individual just because he looked different and came from a different background!

And you’re basing that on the way we treated a robut?

I think you’ll find that’s pronounced robot, with two o’s.  For your information, his name was Adam Link.  So yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. 

Adam Link was a “living egg beater” who murdered his creator, because he read Frankenstein and decided to follow the Monster’s footsteps, complete with meeting a little girl over a puddle and threating to drown her!

There’s no evidence that he tried to drown her.  There is evidence that he lifted her by the arm and may have unintentionally sprained her arm or dislocated her shoulder.  And it might interest you to know that he also read Kahlil Gebran’s The Prophet and the Holy Bible, along with Wuthering Heights.  He didn’t follow each of those plots!  In fact, after reading Sherlock Holmes, he might have been better suited to solving his own case than the legal council that was hired to do that job…

That’s pure speculation!  He was found standing over the body of Dr. Link.

Yes!  For which you took the testimony of a 6 year old girl as if she were a sound judge.  She wasn’t even present and had nothing to do with the murder, yet she was questioned about a suspected murder!  The mere fact that Adam could have ripped her in half in less time that it would take her to scream might have been a clue!  And Mrs. McCroy, who was very touchy about her relationship with the doctor… I can’t help but wonder: was that love or just being upset at being put out of a job?  The only person who witnessed anything at all, was a man who clearly indicated that he was within striking distance of Adam for several seconds, even telling Adam that he was going to get the police, and Adam did nothing to harm him!  There were even two different versions of what happened with that encounter but we automatically believed the more damning account.  Yet we saw first hand that Adam did not resist arrest when cornered.  And he certainly had the strength to do so, if he wanted to.  Did anyone even think to ask him what had happened??

Of course not!  He’s a robut.  A machine.  And even if I take what you’re saying as relevant, which I’m not, how does that translate into negligence?  We were protecting the public from a menace!

And in all of his encounters, where did he indicate menace?   Franky, I find it astounding that society is not held accountable for its irresponsible actions.  Do you realize, to prove Adam was dangerous, the Judge authorized the prosecution to perform brain damage on him?

Brain damage!  Nonsense.  We reprogrammed him and took away his limiters, and he went on the attack, that’s…

Exactly what should have been expected and the very definition of brain damage when dealing with a “robut”, as you call it! 

Science has to be kept in check!  It’ll lead to things we don’t understand.  That robut wasn’t sentient!! He wasn’t self-aware!  He was programmed!

Every human being is programmed from childhood.  They are taught by their parents and their society.  Adam Link was no less programmed than you or I.  I suspect someone taught you how to be racist!

Racist!  How dare you!

The fact is, science is not the culprit here.  Your constabulary held Adam like a criminal.  If he is just a machine and was responsible for the death of Dr. Link, he was no more accountable than a car; a device which kills many more people each year than a robut.  One almost killed that little girl over there, in fact.  Yet, even as you all condemned Adam, you assured everyone that no one could get “within 50 feet of” him when you walked out the back door to escort him to his demise.  So can you explain how a 6 year old girl found him back there?  And did it not occur to anyone that, as his accuser, Adam could have left her in the road to be struck down, but instead saved her, sacrificing his own life?  Oh, and guess what killed him?  A car!  Do you have that in a jail cell right now too?  Are you having it dismantled??  How does any of that constitute a danger from science?

I… I…

Exactly!  As Cutler said, “It will take a long time to change human nature!”  Human nature is on trial here, Sheriff, not science.  Science offers hope.  You have to overcome your prejudice, not stop men from inventing amazing machines.  Did you know, Professor Hebbel dreams of going into space and maybe being a doctor on a starship one day, or maybe a bartender.  Did you know Judson Ellis has left journalism and is studying logic and computer programming?  He’s our single point of computer knowledge right now and has even taken the data tapes retrieved from Adam Link to his friend Dr. Asimov to see if they could learn anything about his programming.  Do you know what they found so far, Sheriff?

Enlighten me.

That Adam had three core rules programmed into him.  Rule one: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.  Rule two: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.   Rule Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.  Do you understand what this means, sheriff?

Sounds like scientific claptrap.

It means Adam could no more have hurt Dr. Link than I could punch the moon. 

So what do you intend to do?

Oh, you’re under arrest for gross negligence, Sheriff.  Adam was innocent, as every shred of forensic evidence has confirmed.  On top of that, you are a bigot, Sheriff. You judged a man by his outward appearance.  The Measure of a Man is in his soul, not his skin, whether metal or flesh.  Case closed.

Mr Melinda M. Snodgrass, would you take these recordings and transcribe them please?

Of course, sir.  By the way, that “measure of a man” speech was really inspiring.  Mind if I use that one day?  ML