The Robot Civil Wars were conflicts among "Calvinian" and "Giskardian" robots, lasting for thousands of years with no clear end.


The conflicts originated with the Three Laws of Robotics formulated in the 1980s:

  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.

Later, around 3700,[1] robots Daneel and Giskard, introduced the Zeroth Law:

  1. A robot may not injure humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

This, naturally, led to a modification of the First law as follows:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, except where that would conflict with the Zeroth Law.

These modifications, thought of as blasphemous by some, led to the Robotic Civil Wars between the Calvinians, strictly adhering to the original three laws, and the Giskardians, robots who had adopted the Zeroth Law.

Later, in 3801, the interstellar robot civil war reached Inferno, a spacer-colonized planet doomed by ecological and cultural catastrophe, where robots operating under less restrictive New Laws. New Law robots were destroyed or went into hiding.

Around 3,000 GE, Shoree-Harn tried to introduce a new calendar and shake up social rigidity, with support of the Calvinian robots. This failed.

In 12,028 GE, Calvinian robots, led by R. Plussix, moved to Trantor and found historical documents dating from era of Shoree-Harn, as well as the sims Voltaire and Joan of Arc. They helped seed a new "renaissance" on planet Sark. Voltaire and Joan got into the Trantorian Mesh where they met the ancient Memes, triggering a rebellion among "tiktok" robots who killed many of Daneel's positronic companions. Seldon struck a deal to get the Memes off Trantor, and the Sark renaissance fell into chaos.

In 12,067 GE, during the trial of Seldon and Gaal Dornick, the Calvinian robots were foiled in a plot to ruin the Seldon Project and stymie Daneel's control over human history.

In 520 FE, or 12,589 GE, the wars reignited after dying down. Their outcome is unknown, although a Giskardian victory is likely.


  1. This date is according to the timeline given in Foundation's Triumph. References by Asimov in the original Robot series would give a date of 4922.