One-minute review: The maestro and a robot. The maestro plays the piano as the robot listens and asks questions. And then it, the robot, plays the piano superbly. The maestro becomes excited, invites experts to come hear the robot play, but the robot has seen the maestro cry at the robot’s playing beautifully and refuses to play because tears are a sign of harm to humans and he has been programmed never to harm humans.
The robot understands man to a point—understands that those sounds which he can produce through the piano so perfectly, in the spirit that the composer wrote them, have an effect on humans that they do not have on the robot. These sounds can make men cry. The robot does not understand that tears are not always harmful.
75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World’s Literature. Ed. Roger B. Goodman.