"Who will be master and who will be the slave?”
23 October 2017

Sci-fi fans are probably familiar with Isaac Asimov’s collection of short stories titled I, Robot (yes it also partially-inspired the Will Smith film). First published in 1950, it is perhaps most famous for stating the three essential laws a robot’s programming must abide.


  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 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.


These laws are more relevant than ever with the progress being made in AI, though they do not exist in physical humanoid forms… yet. Recognising this, Burning Man has decided on I, Robot as the theme for the 2018 annual gathering in the Playa.



According to the official announcement, “The theme will focus on the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives; from the humble algorithm and its subroutines that sift us, sort us and surveil us, to automated forms of labor that supplant us. Are we entering a Golden Age that frees us all from mindless labor? Everything, it seems, depends on HMI, the Human-Machine Interface. In a world increasingly controlled by smart machines, who will be master and who will be the slave?”





Technology controls every aspect of our life and the consequences need to be studied and controlled before it gets out of hand (we’ve seen enough films to know it never ends well for us). By choosing this as the annual theme, we can expect a lot of philosophical questions to be raised about morality and ethics in an otherwise binary world. In addition, Burning Man is known for its spectacular art installations, and with such a cool concept, artists’ imaginations should be running wild already.


You can read more about Burning Man : I, Robot here.