Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing -- to be clear.
I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing--to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics--Well, they can do whatever they wish.
Fertility is hereditary. If your parents didn't have any children, neither will you.
I would argue that a truly developed country would be beyond Presidents and Kings. In a world with some semblance of equality, each liberal-minded woman, each gay person, and indeed almost every person could be their own President. In a world of equals, what real service does a ruler provide?
The world is being Americanized and technologized to its limits, and that makes it dull for some people. Reaching the Moon restores the frontier and gives us the lands beyond.
The essential building block is...the true love that is impossible to define for those who have never experienced it and unnecessary to define for those who have.
I'm an indoors person. I'm not afraid of the outdoors and I penetrate it easily and cheerfully. However, I must admit I like Central Park better than the wilderness, and I like the canyons of Manhattan better than Central Park, and I like the interior of my apartment better than the canyons of Manhattan, and I like my two rooms better with the shades down at all times than with the shades up. I'm not an agoraphobe at all, but I am a claustrophile, if you see the distinction.
I grow grandiose, which is a good sign I should become prosaic.
Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
I am frequently asked if I have visited Israel, whereas yet, it is simply assumed that I have. Well, I don't travel. I really don't, and if I did, I probably wouldn't visit Israel. I remember how it was in 1948 when Israel was being established and all my Jewish friends were ecstatic, I was not. I said: what are we doing? We are establishing ourselves in a ghetto, in a small corner of a vast Muslim sea. The Muslims will never forget nor forgive, and Israel, as long as it exists, will be embattled. I was laughed at, but I was right. I can't help but feel that the Jews didn't really have the right to appropriate a territory only because 2000 years ago, people they consider their ancestors, were living there. History moves on and you can't really turn it back. (#92 ff.).
All knowledge is one. When a light brightens and illuminates a corner of a room, it adds to the general illumination of the entire room. Over and over again, scientific discoveries have provided answers to problems that had no apparent connection with the phenomena that gave rise to the discovery.
There is nothing frightening about an eternal dreamless sleep. Surely it is better than eternal torment in Hell and eternal boredom in Heaven.
I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library.
I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!' but ‘That's funny!'
That was the trouble with the Outside. One teetered forever between unpleasant alternatives.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.
The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.
I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
It is a mistake," he said, "to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort.
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
However much the creationist leaders might hammer away at their scientific and philosophical points, they would be helpless and a laughing-stock if that were all they had. It is religion that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for -- of even against -- evolution, march in the army of the night, their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.
We must not be taken in by the myth of youth, the unending propaganda to the effect that young men are younger than old men; that they are better looking; that they are slimmer, stronger and more athletic; that they can hold a girl in more romantic fashion and speak more sweetly.
When I die I won't go to heaven or hell; there will just be nothingness.
No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
Science is a set of rules to keep us from telling lies to each other. All scientists really have is a reputation for telling the truth.
Is not all this an extraordinary concatenation of coincidence?
Pelorat said, If you list it like that? List it any way you please, said Trevize. I don't believe in extraordinary concatenations of coincidence.
My feeling is, quite simply, that if there is a God, He has done such a bad job that he isn't worth discussing.
Intelligence is an extremely subtle concept. It's a kind of understanding that flourishes if it's combined with a good memory, but exists anyway even in the absence of good memory. It's the ability to draw consequences from causes, to make correct inferences, to foresee what might be the result, to work out logical problems, to be reasonable, rational, to have the ability to understand the solution from perhaps insufficient information. You know when a person is intelligent, but you can be easily fooled if you are not yourself intelligent.
When I sit down at the typewriter, I write. Someone once asked me if I had a fixed routine before I start, like setting up exercises, sharpening pencils, or having a drink of orange juice. I said, "No, the only thing I do before I start writing is to make sure that I'm close enough to the typewriter to reach the keys.
It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys.
It is almost impossible to think of something no one has thought of before, but it is always possible to add different frills.
When life is so harsh that a man loses all hope in himself, then he raises his eyes to a shining rock, worshipping it, just to find hope again, rather than looking to his own acts for hope and salvation. Yes, atheism IS a redemptive belief. It is theism that denies man's own redemptive nature.
The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter that we know.
Every period of human development has had its own particular type of human conflict -- -its own variety of problem that, apparently, could be settled only by force. And each time, frustratingly enough, force never really settled the problem. Instead, it persisted through a series of conflicts, then vanished of itself -- -what's the expression -- -ah, yes, 'not with a bang, but a whimper,' as the economic and social environment changed. And then, new problems, and a new series of wars.
You wash your hands, don't you?"
Bayley's eyes dropped to his hands. They were as clean as need be. "Yes," he said. "All right. I suppose it's a measure of instability to feel such revulsion at dirty hands as to be unable to clean an oily mechanism by hand even in a emergency. Still, in the ordinary course of living, the revulsion keeps you clean, which is good.
Naturally, since the Sumerians didn't know what caused the flood anymore than we do, they blamed the gods. (That's the advantage of religion. You're never short an explanation for anything.).
Computerization eliminates the middleman.
I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don't have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.
The City was the acme of efficiency, but it made demands of its inhabitants. It asked them to live in a tight routine and order their lives under a strict and scientific control.
It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.
Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket.
Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.
Society is much more easily soothed than one's own conscience.
People who don't expect justice don't have to suffer disappointment.
Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo.
Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed. Occasionally there were the dim signals from deep within the cavern in which another man was located so that each might grope toward the other. Yet because they did not know one another, and could not understand one another, and dared not trust one another, and felt from infancy the terrors and insecurity of that ultimate isolation there was the hunted fear of man for man, the savage rapacity of man toward man.
Carbon is the basis of human life and iron of robot life. It becomes easy to speak of C Fe when you wish express a culture that combines the best of the two on an equal but parallel basis.
Words are a pretty fuzzy substitute for mathematical equations.
To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values, there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally, and breed and how easy it is to do nothing.
And so it happened, that when others bent their knee, he refused and added loudly that his ancestors in their time bowed no knee to any stinking mayor. And in his ancestors' time the mayor was elected anyhow, and kicked out at will, and that the only people that inherited anything by right of birth were the congenital idiots.
I believe that scientific knowledge has fractal properties, that no matter how much we learn, whatever is left, however small it may seem, is just as infinitely complex as the whole was to start with. That, I think, is the secret of the Universe.
There is no more desire to live past one's time than to die before it.
At odd and unpredictable times, we cling in fright to the past .
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
The Foundation has secrets. They have books, old books -- so old that the language they are in is only known to a few of the top men. But the secrets are shrouded in ritual and religion, and may use them.
Where the stars are scattered thinly,' quoted Barr, 'And the cold of space seeps in.
There was this superstitious fear on the part of the pygmies of the present for the relics of the giants of the past.
They absorb carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. What could be more desirable? And they look good in the bargain. Stop chopping down the rain forests and plant more saplings, and we're on our way.
There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
A nuclear blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.
Life originated in the sea, and about eighty percent of it is still there.
It's just science fiction so it's allowed to be silly, and childish, and stupid. It's just science fiction, so it doesn't have to make sense. It's just science fiction, so you must ask nothing more of it than loud noises and flashing lights.
I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing.
If a conclusion is not poetically balanced, it cannot be scientifically true.
The young specialist in English Lit, ...lectured me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong.
Limmar Ponyets was completely a-lather when the call reached his receiver -- which proves that the old bromide about telemessages and the bathtub holds true even in the dark, hard space of the Galactic Periphery.
The secret of the successful fool is that he's no fool at all.
It takes more than capital to swing business. You've got to have the A. I. D. degree to get by -- Advertising, Initiative, and Dynamics.
Writing is my only interest. Even speaking is an interruption.
It took me thirty-six years; and, in some fifty stories, ranging in length from short-shorts to novels, I think I must have touched, in one way or another, on every aspect of computers and computerization. And (mark this!) I did it without ever knowing anything at all about computers in any real sense. To this day, I don't. I am totally inept with machinery... on my typewriter I turn out books at the contemptible rate of one a month.
I want to be a human being, nothing more and nothing less. ... I don't suppose we can ever stop hating each other, but why encourage that by keeping the old labels with their ready-made history of millennial hate?
It is quite clear that as long as the nations of the world spend most of their energy, money, and emotional strength in quarreling with words and weapons, a true offensive against the common problems that threaten human survival is not very likely. A world government that can channel human efforts in the direction of the great solutions seems desirable, even essential. Naturally, such a world government should be a federal one, with regional and local autonomy safeguarded and with cultural diversity promoted.
I stand four-square for reason, and object to what seems to me to be irrationality, whatever the source. If you are on my side in this, I must warn you that the army of the night has the advantage of overwhelming numbers, and, by its very nature, is immune to reason, so that it is entirely unlikely that you and I can win out. We will always remain a tiny and probably hopeless minority, but let us never tire of presenting our view, and of fighting the good fight for the right.
When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion--the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
The Scientist -- with capital letters and no smile.
Logical but not reasonable. Wasn't that the definition of a robot?
You see, proteins, as I probably needn't tell you, are immensely complicated groupings of amino acids and certain other specialized compounds, arranged in intricate three-dimensional patterns that are as unstable as sunbeams on a cloudy day. It is this instability that is life, since it is forever changing its position in an effort to maintain its identity -- in the manner of a long rod balanced on an acrobat's nose.
To insult someone we call him bestial. For deliberate cruelty and nature, human might be the greater insult.
No vision of God and heaven ever experienced by the most exalted prophet can, in my opinion, match the vision of the universe as seen by Newton or Einstein.
Science does not promise absolute truth, nor does it consider that such a thing necessarily exists. Science does not even promise that everything in the Universe is amenable to the scientific process.
The human mind works at low efficiency. Twenty percent is the figure usually given. When, momentarily, there is a flash of greater power, it is termed a hunch, or insight, or intuition.
Pierre Curie, a brilliant scientist, happened to marry a still more brilliant one--Marie, the famous Madame Curie--and is the only great scientist in history who is consistently identified as the husband of someone else.
I can't believe you. Are you under the impression that the Second Foundation is doing this for us? That they are some sort of idealists? Isn't it clear to you from your knowledge of politics--that they are doing it for themselves?
We are the cutting edge. We are the engine, the force. We labor and sweat and bleed and weep. They merely control--adjusting an amplifier here, closing a contact there, and doing it all with ease and without risk to themselves. Then, when it is all done and when, after a thousand years of heaving and straining, we have set up the Second Galactic Empire, the people of the Second Foundation will move in as the ruling elite.
The infinity of potential knowledge may be infinitely greater than the infinity of my actual knowledge.
There is nothing so eternally adhesive as the memory of power.
No matter how carefully records are kept and filed and computerized, they grow fuzzy with time. Stories grow by accretion. Tales accumulate -- like dust. The longer the time lapse, the dustier the history -- until it degenerates into fables.
You wait for the war to happen like vultures. If you want to help, prevent the war. Don't save the remnants. Save them all.
It's one thing to have guts; it's another to be crazy.
Humanity is cutting down its forests, apparently oblivious to the fact that we may not be able to live without them.
However, I continue to try and I continue, indefatigably, to reach out. There's no way I can single-handedly save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference -- but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort.
Life is a journey, but don't worry, you'll find a parking spot at the end.
Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
The Three Laws of Robotics:
1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law; The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
All normal life, Peter, consciously or otherwise, resent domination. If the domination is by an inferior, or by a supposed inferior, the resentment becomes stronger.
One might suppose that reality must be held to at all costs. However, though that may be the moral thing to do, it is not necessarily the most useful thing to do. The Greeks themselves chose the ideal over the real in their geometry and demonstrated very well that far more could be achieved by consideration of abstract line and form than by a study of the real lines and forms of the world; the greater understanding achieved through abstraction could be applied most usefully to the very reality that was ignored in the process of gaining knowledge.
I am not impressed by ancestry, since if I could trace my origins to Judas Maccabeus or to King David, that would not add one inch to my stature, either physically, mentally or ethically. What's more, what about all my other ancestors? There must have been uncounted thousands of human beings in the century of King David, all of whom in some small way contributed to my production, and every one of them but King David might have been criminals and drunkards for all I know. (Nor was King David himself entirely unremarkable for his ethical standards.).
Innumerable surveys have made it quite clear that when a respectable elderly man makes up to a giggling young lady, it is not the giggling young lady so accosted that is offended by the action, but rather the granite-faced dowager, standing unnoticed by her side, who is. It is she who makes derogatory remarks concerning dirty old men, and is quite likely to attack him with an umbrella.
Democracy cannot survive overpopulation.
Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one person matters.
Since emotions are few and reasons are many (said the robot Giscard) the behavior of a crowd can be more easily predicted than the behavior of one person.
Aimless extension of knowledge, however, which is what I think you really mean by the term curiosity, is merely inefficiency. I am designed to avoid inefficiency.
Aimless extension of knowledge, however, which is what I think you really mean by the term curiosity, is merely inefficiency. I am designed to avoid inefficiency." -R. Daneel Olivaw.
The theory of universal gravitation is not cast-iron. No theory is, and there is always room for improvement. Isn't that so? Science is constructed out of approximations that gradually approach the truth... Well, that means all theories are subject to constant testing and modification, doesn't it? And if it eventually turns out that they're not quite close enough to the truth, they need to be replaced by something that's closer. Right?
If we only obey those rules that we think are just and reasonable, then no rule will stand, for there is no rule that some will not think is unjust and unreasonable.
All life is nucleic acid the rest is commentary.
Radiation, unlike smoking, drinking, and overeating, gives no pleasure, so the possible victims object.
I figure that if God actually does exist, he is big enough to understand an honest difference of opinion.
Speech, originally, was the device whereby Man learned, imperfectly, to transmit the thoughts and emotions of his mind. By setting up arbitrary sounds and combinations of sounds to represent certain mental nuances, he developed a method of communication -- but one which in its clumsiness and thick-thumbed inadequacy degenerated all the delicacy of the mind into gross and guttural signaling.
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
We were never under any delusions as to which was more important, an individual or humanity.
At two-tenths the speed of light, dust and atoms might not do significant damage even in a voyage of 40 years, but the faster you go, the worse it is -- space begins to become abrasive. When you begin to approach the speed of light, hydrogen atoms become cosmic-ray particles, and they will fry the crew. ...So 60,000 kilometers per second may be the practical speed limit for space travel.
It's humbling to think that all animals, including human beings, are parasites of the plant world.
I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.
Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.
How then to enforce peace? Not by reason, certainly, nor by education. If a man could not look at the fact of peace and the fact of war and choose the former in preference to the latter, what additional argument could persuade him? What could be more eloquent as a condemnation of war than war itself?
How then to enforce peace? Not by reason, certainly, nor by education. If a man could not look at the fact of peace and the fact of war and choose the former in preference to the latter, what additional argument could persuade him? What could be more eloquent as a condemnation of war than war itself? What tremendous feat of dialectic could carry with it a tenth the power of a single gutted ship with its ghastly cargo?
University President: Why is it that you physicists always require so much expensive equipment? Now the Department of Mathematics requires nothing but money for paper, pencils, and erasers ... and the Department of Philosophy is better still. It doesn't even ask for erasers.
I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I am a New York patriot, for instance, and if I lived in Los Angeles, I would love to get together with other New York expatriates and sing "Give My Regards to Broadway."
The intelligent man is never bored.
Suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details?
Life is not like a murder mystery. In mysteries people always do the same thing. Then when some little thing is out of line, some wise-guy amateur detective makes big deductions. In real life, people don't do the same things all the time. They do different things at different times. In real life, people are crazy.
The first step in making rabbit stew is catching the rabbit.
The first problem of living is to minimize friction with the crowds that surround you on all sides.
A fire-eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.
Anything you make forbidden gains sexual attractiveness. Would you be particularly interested in women's breasts if you lived in a society in which they were displayed at all times?
What I will be remembered for are the Foundation Trilogy and the Three Laws of Robotics. What I want to be remembered for is no one book, or no dozen books. Any single thing I have written can be paralleled or even surpassed by something someone else has done. However, my total corpus for quantity, quality and variety can be duplicated by no one else. That is what I want to be remembered for.
He slept that night the sleep of a successfully stubborn man.
The "Society for Humanity" is a Northern organization, primarily, you know, and they make no secret of not wanting the Machines. -- Susan, they are few in numbers, but it is an association of powerful men. Heads of factories; directors of industries and agricultural combines who hate to be what they call "the Machine's office-boy" belong to it. Men with ambition belong to it. Men who feel themselves strong enough to decide for themselves what is best for themselves, and not just to be told what is best for others." (from The Evitable Conflict, 1950).
It was odd how that last deed caught the imagination of the world. All that Andrew had done before had not swayed them. But he had finally accepted even death to be human, and the sacrifice was too great to be rejected.
From my close observation of writers... they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
How bright and beautiful a comet is as it flies past our planet--provided it does fly past it.
Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know -- and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance.
Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know -- and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know -- even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction -- than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.
After years of finding mathematics easy, I finally reached integral calculus and came up against a barrier. I realized that this was as far as I could go, and to this day I have never successfully gone beyond it in any but the most superficial way.
I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
The age of the pulp magazine was the last in which youngsters, to get their primitive material, were forced to be literate.
Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.
A neat and orderly laboratory is unlikely. It is, after all, so much a place of false starts and multiple attempts.
Force yourself to laugh and you'll soon find something to laugh about. A being causes his own feelings. Splurge on it!
Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil--but there is no way around them.
The elderly man, flushed with pleasure, was recounting in voluble fashion his experiences and impressions. His wife joined in periodically, with meticulous corrections involving completely unimportant points; these being given and taken in the best of humor.
Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically.
I'm not a speed reader. I'm a speed understander.
Working ten hour days allows you to fall behind twice as fast as you could working five hour days.
Flattery is useful when dealing with youngsters.
If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.
Life would be impossible on such a planet. It wouldn't get enough heat and light, and if it rotated there would be total darkness half of every day. There wouldn't be any native inhabitants. You couldn't expect life -- -which is fundamentally dependent on light -- -to develop under such extreme conditions of light deprivation. Half of every axial rotation spent in Darkness! No, nothing could exist under conditions like that.
Some readers may realize that this story, first published in 1956, has been overtaken by events. In 1965, astronomers discovered that Mercury does not keep one side always to the Sun, but has a period of rotation of about fifty-four days, so that all parts of it are exposed to the sunlight at one time or another.
Well, what can I do except say that I wish astronomers would get things right to begin with? And I certainly refuse to change the story to suit their whims.
And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.
I do not use airplanes. They strike me as unsporting. You can have an automobile accident-and survive. You can be on a sinking ship-and survive. You can be in an earthquake, fire, volcanic eruption, tornado, what you will-and survive. But if your plane crashes, you do not survive. And I say the heck with it.
Saying something is 'too bad' is easy. You say you disapprove, which makes you a nice person, and then you can go about your business and not be interested anymore. It's a lot worse than 'too bad.' It's against everything decent and natural.
The cure for advanced gullibility is to go to sleep and consider matters again the next day.
You don't have to be able to lay eggs to know when one of them is rotten.
To all my gentle readers who have treated me with love for over 30 years, I must say farewell. It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys, but that's not the way it worked out. I have had a long and happy life and I have no complaints about the ending, thereof, and so farewell -- farewell.
The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.
It was easy to cover up ignorance by the mystical word "intuition."
One might accept death reasoningly, with every aspect of the conscious mind, but the body was a brute beast that knew nothing of reason.
All of a sudden, space isn't friendly. All of a sudden, it's a place where people can die... Many more people are going to die. But we can't explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can't do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties.
There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don't come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.
It's not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it's what you have to UNlearn.
It was childish to feel disappointed, but childishness comes almost as naturally to a man as to a child.
When asked for advice by beginners. Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.
In all the known history of Mankind, advances have been made primarily in physical technology; in the capacity of handling the inanimate world about Man. Control of self and society has been left to to chance or to the vague gropings of intuitive ethical systems based on inspiration and emotion. As a result no culture of greater stability than about fifty-five percent has ever existed, and these only as the result of great human misery.
No one is so modest as not to believe himself a competent amateur sleuth.
No individual death among human beings is important. Someone who dies leaves his work behind and that does not entirely die. It never entirely dies as long as humanity exists.
Very few people are aware of the fact that in the beginning the proud and glorious phrase "dirty old man" was actually meant as derision.
The very phrase, originated as it was by young men, is a standing testimonial to the ignorance of the same young men. Sex is dirty--if you do it right. Young men don't know how to do it right, so they stay clean. Some old men never learn how and they stay clean, too. But unless you have the ambition to retreat into dull hopelessness, don't you do it. Don't be bashful with ladies while young and retreat altogether as you grow older. Grow bolder with the years: advance, advance. Be a dirty old man and be proud of it.
How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers.
Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
The whole world might know you and acclaim you, but someone in the past, forever unreachable, forever unknowing, spoils it all.
The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more.
There's so much knowledge to be had that specialists cling to their specialties as a shield against having to know anything about anything else. They avoid being drowned.
What is really amazing, and frustrating, is mankind's habit of refusing to see the obvious and inevitable until it is there, and then muttering about unforeseen catastrophes.
A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.
Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.).
Writing is a lonely job. Even if a writer socializes regularly, when he gets down to the real business of his life, it is he and his type writer or word processor. No one else is or can be involved in the matter.
Dalton's records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war.
Thinking is the activity I love best, and writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers. I can write up to 18 hours a day. Typing 90 words a minute, I've done better than 50 pages a day. Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn't look up-well, maybe once.
Love life seems to be that factor which requires the largest quantity of magical tinkering.
Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.
Intelligence is an accident of evolution, and not necessarily an advantage.
The dangers that face the world can, every one of them, be traced back to science. The salvations that may save the world will, every one of them, be traced back to science.
Why is it, I wonder, that anyone who displays superior athletic ability is an object of admiration to his classmates, while one who displays superior mental ability is an object of hatred?
A myth or legend is simply not made up out of a vacuum. Nothing is -- or can be. Somehow there is a kernel of truth behind it, however distorted that might be.
Most of the iron that has found its way into the Earth's core and its surface rocks -- and into our own blood, as well -- once existed in white dwarfs that exploded.
And his idea of solid comfort was to be left in utter solitude for two or three hours.
Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.
To me it seems to be important to believe people to be good even if they tend to be bad, because your own joy and happiness in life is increased that way, and the pleasures of the belief outweigh the occasional disappointments. To be a cynic about people works just the other way around and makes you incapable about enjoying the good things.
Do not forget that a traitor within our ranks, known to us, can do more harm to the enemy than a loyal man can do good to us.
Courtiers don't take wagers against the king's skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.
Economics is on the side of humanity now.
John Dalton's records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war.
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today.
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our every man must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
It is remarkable, Hardin, how the religion of science has grabbed hold.
The further a device is removed from human control, the more authentically mechanical it seems, and the whole trend in technology has been to devise machines that are less and less under direct human control and more and more under their own apparent will.
Work of each individual contributes to a totality and so becomes undying part of a totality. That totality is human life. Past and present and to come forms a tapestry that has been in existence now for many tens and thousands of years. And has been growing more elaborate, and on the whole more beautiful.
If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain-moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen -- you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
The advance of genetic engineering makes it quite conceivable that we will begin to design our own evolutionary progress.
When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it.
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
I don't think I've ever held a racket in my hand ... There's got to be somebody in the US who isn't trying to play tennis and stinking up the court.
To introduce something altogether new would mean to begin all over, to become ignorant again, and to run the old, old risk of failing to learn.
Nonviolence doesn't always work -- but violence never does.
The Solarians have given up something mankind has had for a million years; something worth more than atomic power, cities, agriculture, tools, fire, everything; because it's something that made everything possible ... The tribe, sir. Cooperation between individuals.
But what's the difference how they act? How about how I feel? I love Robutt and that's what counts.
It is odd that, though no one who has never studied chess would dream he could beat a Grand Master, so many strict amateurs with little or no scientific training are convinced they can point out the 'obvious' flaws in Einstein's theories.
All sorts of computer errors are now turning up. You'd be surprised to know the number of doctors who claim they are treating pregnant men.
The spell of power never quite releases its hold.
I am afraid a monster is grown that will devour all of us. Yet we must fight him.
If a modified robot were to drop a heavy weight upon a
human being, he would not be breaking the First Law, if he did so with the knowledge that his strength and reaction speed would be sufficient to snatch the weight away before it struck the man. However once the weight left his fingers, he would be no longer the active medium. Only the blind force of gravity would be that. The robot could then change his mind and merely by inaction, allow the weight to strike. The modified First Law allows that" (79).
Intelligence is a valuable thing, but it is not usually the key to survival. Sheer fecundity ... usually counts. The intelligent gorilla doesn't do as well as the less intelligent but more-fecund rat, which doesn't do as well as the still-less-intelligent but still-more-fecund cockroach, which doesn't do as well as the minimally-intelligent but maximally-fecund bacterium.
I discovered, to my amazement, that all through history there had been resistance ... and bitter, exaggerated, last-stitch resistance ... to every significant technological change that had taken place on earth. Usually the resistance came from those groups who stood to lose influence, status, money...as a result of the change. Although they never advanced this as their reason for resisting it. It was always the good of humanity that rested upon their hearts.
The whole business is the crudest sort of stratagem, since we have no way of foreseeing it to the end. It is a mere paying out of rope on the chance that somewhere along the length of it will be a noose.
Increasingly, our leaders must deal with dangers that threaten the entire world, where an understanding of those dangers and the possible solutions depends on a good grasp of science. The ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, questions of diet and heredity. All require scientific literacy. Can Americans choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if they themselves are scientifically illiterate? The whole premise of democracy is that it is safe to leave important questions to the court of public opinion -- but is it safe to leave them to the court of public ignorance?
The history of science is full of revolutionary advances that required small insights that anyone might have had, but that, in fact, only one person did.
To test a perfect theory with imperfect instruments did not impress the Greek philosophers as a valid way to gain knowledge.
Uncertainty that comes from knowledge (knowing what you don't know) is different from uncertainty coming from ignorance.
The final end of Eternity, and the beginning of Infinity.
Arthur Clarke says that I am first in science and second in science fiction in accordance with an agreement we have made. I say he is first in science fiction and second in science.
Any technological advance can be dangerous. Fire was dangerous from the start, and so (even more so) was speech -- and both are still dangerous to this day -- but human beings would not be human without them.
The appearance of strength is all about you. It would seem to last forever. However... the rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might it ever had. The storm-blast whistles through the branches of the Empire even now. Listen... and you will hear the creaking.
Where is the world whose people don't prefer a comfortable, warm, and well-worn belief, however illogical, to the chilly winds of uncertainty.
Because, if you stop to think of it, the three Rules of Robotics are the essential guiding principles of a good many of the world's ethical systems. Of course, every human being is supposed to have the instinct of self-preservation. That's Rule Three to a robot. Also every ‘good' human being, with a social conscience and a sense of responsibility, is supposed to defer to proper authority; to listen to his doctor, his boss, his government, his psychiatrist, his fellow man; to obey laws, to follow rules, to conform to custom--even when they interfere with his comfort or his safety. That's Rule Two to a robot. Also, every ‘good' human being is supposed to love others as himself, protect his fellow man, risk his life to save another. That's Rule One to a robot. To put it simply--if Byerley follows all the Rules of Robotics, he may be a robot, and may simply be a very good man.
A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Postulates are based on assumption and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them.
You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason -- -if you pick the proper postulates.
Stoop, then, or you will be beaten to your knees. Stoop voluntarily, and you may save a remnant. You have depended on metal and power and they have sustained you as far as they could. You have ignored mind and morale and they have failed you.
Intuition is the art, peculiar to the human mind, of working out the correct answer from data that is, in itself, incomplete or even, perhaps, misleading.
No one suggests that writing about science will turn the entire world into a model of judgment and creative thought. It will be enough if they spread the knowledge as widely as possible.
For a wise man, I have been told, once said, ‘Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate in empty phrases.' But alas, my lady, I am but a mass of empty phrases, it would seem.
When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.
There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.
Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
Of course, the reader might argue that I was as stubborn in my viewpoint as they were in theirs. Yes, indeed, but I was right and they were wrong and that made the difference.
People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.
As artists and traders in medieval cities began to form organizations, they instituted tough initiation ceremonies. Journeymen in Bergen, Norway, were shoved down a chimney, thrown three times into the sea, and soundly whipped. Such rites made belonging to the guild or corporation more precious to those who were accepted, and survived.
The energy requirements for interstellar travel are so great that it is inconceivable to me that any creatures piloting their ships across the vast depths of space would do so only in order to play games with us over a period of decades. If they want to make contact, they would make contact; if not, they would save their energy and go elsewhere.
The rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might it ever had.
Life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far superior to that of muscle and sinew.
Oh, for a pin that would puncture pretension!
Goodbye, Hari, my love. Remember always -- all you did for me."
-I did nothing for you." -You loved me and your love made me -- human.
God, how that stings! I've spent a lifetime loving science fiction and now I find that you must expect nothing of something that's just science fiction.
She's qualified all right. She understands robots like a sister--comes from hating human beings so much, I think.
It is always useful, you see, to subject the past life of reform politicians to rather inquisitive research.
In short, the age of the pulp magazine was the last in which youngsters, to get their primitive material, were forced to be literate. Now that is gone, and the youngsters have their glazed eyes fixed on the television tube. The result is clear. True literacy is becoming an arcane art, and the nation is steadily "dumbing down."
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
The soft bonds of love are indifferent to life and death. They hold through time so that yesterday's love is part of today's and the confidence in tomorrow's love is also part of today's. And when one dies, the memory lives in the other, and is warm and breathing. And when both die -- I almost believe, rationalist though I am -- that somewhere it remains, indestructible and eternal, enriching all of the universe by the mere fact that once it existed.
All roads lead to Trantor, says the old proverb, and that is where all stars end.
People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.
If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success -- but only if you persist.
Congratulations on the new library, because it isn't just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you -- and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.
Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971.
The Tyranni rule fifty worlds; they are outnumbered hundreds to one. In such a position, simple force is insufficient. Devious methods, intrigue, assassination are their specialties. The net they weave across space is a wide one, and close-meshed. I can well believe that it extends across five hundred light-years to Earth.
Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all time low over the world.
Early in my school career, I turned out to be an incorrigible disciplinary problem. I could understand what the teacher was saying as fast as she could say it, I found time hanging heavy, so I would occasionally talk to my neighbor. That was my great crime, I talked in school.
It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.