Underhill’s robot driver (people must no longer operate cars—it is too dangerous) tells him the robots excised a brain tumor that had turned Sledge against the Prime Directive. Underhill understands that the robots have learned to lie; in the name of the Directive, they have really removed Sledge’s dangerous knowledge and scientific ability.As Underhill sits quietly, he can only contemplate his hands folded on his knees, because he sees there is nothing left for humanity to do.
A different and optimistic view appeared in Japan, where a help- ful and caring robot named Astro Boy was conceived by the artist Osamu Tezuka, who became a major influence on the Japanese-style comic books or graphic novels known as manga. Originally called Mighty Atom, Astro Boy first appeared in a 1952 comic strip drawn by Tezuka. Later, it starred in a television cartoon series and became wildly popular in Japan and around the world. Now it is the subject of a new television series, and a new animated film version is in produc- tion in Hollywood.
This beloved figure is a little boy robot with big eyes and shiny patent-leather hair, built by a scientist to replace his real son who died in an accident. (In the saga, the robot comes into being on April 7, 2003, a date widely celebrated as Astro Boy’s birthday when it came around in reality). First sent off to earn its keep in a circus,Astro Boy learns to use its seven super abilities—including a strength of 100,000 horsepower, rocket legs and arms, and searchlight eyes—to fight for good, because it is a robot with emotions and a soul.The theme song for one of the Astro Boy television series says it all, calling it “brave and gentle and wise,” explaining how it “will try to right any wrong,” and telling us that it is
Lighting up the way for all, For soon he will fight for right, Strong as steel and with a heart of gold.
This image of a good robot was one of the many themes in the virtual history that had been explored in various media by the 1950s and 1960s: creatures helpful or hostile, robots one at a time or in hordes, beings repellent and beings beautiful—all had been or were being presented. Robots were well established and appeared in two