More on I, Robot

As a collection of nine of Isaac Asimov’s earliest stories, “I, Robot” created the “Three Laws of Robotics,” which have influenced both scientists and science fiction writers for over fifty years:

1) Robots must never harm human beings or do anything that would directly harm a human being
2) Robots must follow instructions from humans, as long as those instructions do not violate the first rule of robotics
3) Robots must protect themselves, provided those actions do not violation the other two rules of robotics

In Alex Proyas’ latest film, the story comes not from the eponymous collection but from the once-highly coveted spec script “Hardwired,” which has been in development at several studios since 1995. Recently purchased by Fox and rewritten to add more Asimovian atmosphere, the new story sounds suspiciously to this author like the end of Asimov’s 1949 short story “Mother Earth” and some of that story’s sequel, the 1954 novel “The Caves Of Steel” (although the latter is in development at Universal Studios, see note below). In these stories, which take place a thousand years after the Three Week War, a famous roboticist and leader of the off-world Spacers is murdered, and robophobic NYPD detective Elijah Baley is assigned to investigate the death. Spacers, for physical and psychological reasons, are unable to live on Earth, so Baley is teamed with the roboticist’s would-be Earth dwelling positronic prototype R. Daneel Olivaw.

This motion picture (most recently revised by Akiva Goldsman, dated January 31, 2003) will concentrate on Detective Del Spooner, who, with the aid of psychologist, Dr. Susan Calvin, will investigate the death of Dr. Miles Hogenmiller, a brilliant scientist who worked at US Robotics. Initially labeled a suicide, Spooner has other ideas, convinced that a robot may have taken the doctor’s life. Isolated and eccentric, Dr. Hogenmiller appears as a hologram of himself, summoning Spooner to his side after his death. He was working on a very special project when his life was cut short. He had created something quite extraordinary – a robot with a living brain, code named “Sonny.” Spooner goes to Hogenmiller’s boss, Dr. Lance Robertson, with his suspicions. Incensed that Spooner wants to charge one of his robots with murder, Dr. Robertson maintains Dr. Hogenmiller took his own life. Terribly weary, Robertson knows full well that the future of his company would be snuffed out should the press get wind of the idea that a robot would, under any circumstances, kill a human being.

Other major characters will include Spooner’s superior, Lt. John Bergin, and Baldez and Chin, two forensic cops who see this case as their stepping stone to a better future.

Back in September of 2000, Universal paid mid-six figures for the rights to “The Caves Of Steel” and shelled out over a million to have James Vanderbilt do the adaptation, and attached Simon West to direct. However, there has been little movement on the project since the initial announcement.

The twenty-two week shoot begins in Vancouver on April 28, with a release date already scheduled for July 2, 2004


The Scorecard
Director: Alex Proyas
Producers: Laurence Mark, John Davis
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Hillary Seitz and Jeff Vintar, based on Vintar’s 1995 spec screenplay “Hardwired” and suggested by the stories by Issac Asimov
Featuring: Will Smith
Distributor: Fox