This article examines Asimov’s stories not as literature but as a gedankenexperiment — an exercise in thinking-through the ramifications of a design. Robotics, a branch of engineering, is also a popular source of inspiration in science fiction literature; indeed, the term originated in that field. Born near Smolensk in Russia, Isaac Asimov came to the United States with his parents three years later. Asimov’s original laws provide that robots are to be slaves to humans (the second law). Asimov’s early stories are examined here not in chronological sequence or on the basis of literary devices, but by looking at clusters of related ideas. At a more abstract level, the laws are arguably incomplete because the frame of reference is explicitly human. No recognition is given to plants, animals, or as-yet-undiscovered, intelligent life forms. At first sight, Asimov’s laws are intuitively appealing, but their application encounters difficulties.