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Now, to me, that theme seems obsolete. The constructs do not mimic humans; they are, in many deep ways, actually human already.
They are not trying to fool us, for a purpose of any sort; they merely follow lines we follow, in order that they, too, may overcome such common problems as the breakdown of vital parts, loss of power source, attack by such foes as storms, short circuits -- and I'm sure any one of us here can testify that a short circuit, especially in our power supply, can ruin our entire day and make us utterly unable to get to our daily job, or, once at the office, useless as far as doing the work set forth on our desk.
What would occur to me as a recasting of the robot-appearing-as-human theme would be a gleaming robot with a telescan-lens and a helium battery powerback, who, when jostled, bleeds. Underneath the metal hull is a heart, such as we ourselves have. Perhaps I will write that.
Or, as in stories already in print, a computer, when asked some ultimate question such as, "Why is there water?
One story I wrote, which I'm afraid I failed to take seriously enough, dealt with a computer which, when able to answer a question put to it, ate the questioner. Presumably -- I failed to go into this -- had the computer been unable to answer a question, the human questioner would have eaten it.
Anyhow, I inadvertently blended the human and the construct, and didn't notice that such a blend might, in time, actually begin to become part of our reality. Like Lem, I think this will be so, more and more. But to project past Lem's idea: This leads to all sorts of spinoff ideas: And would there be birth control pills for sewing machines? Probably, like one of my previous wives, certain sewing machines would complain that the pills made them overweight -- or rather, in their case, that it made them sew irregular stitches.
And there would be unreliable sewing machines that would forget to take birth control pills. And, last but not least, there would have to be Planned Parenthood Clinics at which sewing machines just off the assembly lines would be conseled as to the dangers of promiscuity, with severe warnings of venereal diseases visited on such immoral machines by an outraged God -- Himself, no doubt, able to sew buttonholes and fancy needlework at a rate that would dazzle the credulous merely metal and plastic sewing machines always ready, like ourselves, to kowtow before divine miracles.
I am being facetious about this, I suppose, but -- the point is not merely a humorous one. Our electronic constructs are becoming so complex that to comprehend them we must now reverse the analogizing of cybernetics and try to reason from our own mentation and behavior to theirs -- although I suppose to assign motive or purpose to them would be to enter the realm of paranoia; what machines do may resemble what we do, but certainly they do not have intent in the sense that we have; they have tropisms, they have purpose in the sense that we build them to accomplish certain ends and to react to certain stimuli.
A pistol, for example, is built with the purpose of firing a metal slug that will damage, incapacitate or kill someone, but this does not mean the pistol wants to do this. And yet here we are entering the philosophical realm of Spinoza when he saw, and I think with great profundity, that if a falling stone could reason, it would think, "I want to fall at the rate of 32 feet per second per second.
We are driven as are insects, although the term "instinct" is perhaps not applicable for us. Whatever the term, much of our behavior that we feel is the result of our will, may control us to the extent that for all practical purposes we falling stones, doomed to drop at a rate prescribed by nature, as rigid and predictable as the force that creates a crystal.
Each of us may feel himself unique, with an intrinsic destiny never before seen in the universe And -- here is a thought not too pleasing -- as the external world becomes more animate, we may find that we -- the so-called humans -- are becoming, and may to a great extent always have been, inanimate in the sense that we are led, directed by built-in tropisms, rather than leading.
So we and our elaborately evolving computers may meet each other halfway. Someday a human being, named perhaps Fred White, may shoot a robot named Pete Something-or-other, which has come out of a General Electrics factory, and to his surprise see it weep and bleed.
And they dying robot may shoot back and, to its surprise, see a wisp of gray smoke arise from the electric pump that it supposed was Mr. It would be rather a great moment of truth for both of them. I would like then to ask this: That is special to us as a living species? And what is it that, at least up to now, we can consign as merely machine behavior, or, by extension, insect behavior, or reflex behavior?
And I would include, in this, the kind of pseudo-human behavior exhibited by what were once living men -- creatures who have, in ways I wish to discuss next, become instruments, means, rather than ends, and hence to me analogs of machines in the bad sense, in the sense that although biological life continues, metabolism goes on, the soul -- for lack of a better term -- is no longer there or at least no longer active.
And such does exist in our world -- it always did, but the production of such inauthentic human activity has become a science of government and such-like agencies, now. The reduction of humans to mere use -- men made into machines, serving a purpose which although "good" in an abstract sense has, for its accomplishment, employed what I regard as the greatest evil imaginable: As if, so to speak, history has made him into its instrument.
History, and men skilled in -- and trained in -- the use of manipulative techniques, equipped with devices, ideologically oriented, themselves, in such as way that the use of these devices strikes them as a necessary or at least desirable method of bringing about some ultimately desired goal. I think, at this point, of Tom Paine's comment about or another party of the Europe of his time: The dying -- and yet, I think, beginning once again to revive in the hearts of the new generation of kids coming into maturity -- the dying bird of authentic humanness.
This is what I wish to say to you here, today. I wish to disclose my hope, my faith, in the kids who are emerging now. Their world, their values. And, simultaneously, their imperviousness to the false values, the false idols, the false hates, of the previous generations. The fact that they, these fine, good kids, cannot be reached or moved or even touched by the "gravity" -- to refer back to my previous metaphor -- that has made us older persons fall, against our knowledge or will, at 32 feet per second per second throughout our lives It is as if these kids, or at least many of them, some of them, are falling at a different rate, or, really, not falling at all.
Walt Whitman's "Marching to the sound of other drummers" might be rephrased this way: Youth, of course, has always tended toward this; in fact this is really a definition of youth. But right now it is so urgent, if, as I think, we are merging by degrees into homogeneity with our mechanical constructs, step by step, month by month, until a time will perhaps come when a writer, for example, will not stop writing because someone unplugged his electric typewriter but because some unplugged him.
But there are kids now who cannot be unplugged because no electric cord links them to any external powersource. Their hearts beat with an interior, private meaning. Their energy doesn't come from a pacemaker; it comes from a stubborn, almost absurdly perverse, refusal to be "shucked," that is, to be taken in by the slogans, the ideology -- in fact by any and all ideology itself, of whatever sort -- that would reduce them to instruments of abstract causes, however "good.
I would like to tell you about their world because -- if we are lucky -- something of that world, those values, that way of life, will shape the future of our total society, our utopia or anti-utopia of the future. As a science fiction writer, I must of course look continually ahead, always at the future. It is my hope -- and I'd like to communicate it to you in the tremendous spirit of optimism that I feel so urgently and strongly -- that our collective tomorrow exists in embryonic form in the heads, or rather in the hearts, of these kids who right now, at their young ages, are politically and sociologically powerless, unable even, by our Californian laws, to buy a bottle of beer or a cigarette, to vote, to in any way shape, be consulted about, or bring into existence the official laws that govern their and our society.
I think, really, I am saying this: Or, as we say in the San Francisco Bay Area, as you observe him "cruising around town to check out the action. These kids, that I have known, lived with, still know, in California, are my science fiction stories of tomorrow, my summation, at this point in my life as a person and a writer; they are what I look ahead to - and so keenly desire to see prevail.
What, more than anything else I have ever encountered, I believe in. And would give my life for. My full measure of devotion, in this war we are fighting, to maintain, and augment, what is human about us, what is the core of ourselves, and the source of our destiny. Our flight must be not only to the stars but into the nature of our own beings. Because it is not merely where we go, to Alpha Centaurus or Betelgeuse, but what we are as we make our pilgrimages there.
Our natures will be going there, too. It would, after all, be rather dismaying, if the first two-legged entity to emerge on the surface of Mars from a Terran spacecraft were to declare, "Thanks be to God for letting me, letting me, click, letting, click, click And probably even more dismaying to this construct would be the discovery when it returned to Earth, to find that its "children" had been recycled along with the aluminum beer cans and Coca Cola bottles as fragments of the urban pollution problem.
And, finally, when this astronaut made of plastic and wiring and relays went down to the City Hall officials to complain, it would discover that its three-year guarantee had run out, and, since parts were no longer available to keep it functioning, its birth certificate had been cancelled. Of course, literally, we should not take this seriously.
But as a metaphor -- in some broad sense maybe we should scrutinize more closely the two-legged entities we plan to send up, for example, to man the orbiting space station. We do not want to learn three years from now that the alleged human crew had all married portions of the space station and had settled down to whirr happily forever after in connubial bliss. As in Ray Bradbury's superb story in which a fear-haunted citizen of Los Angeles discovers that the police car trailing him has no driver, that it is tailing him on its own, we should be sure that one of us sits in the driver's seat; in Mr.
Bradbury's story the real horror, at least to me, is not that the police car has its own tropism as it hounds the protagonist but that, within the car, there is a vacuum. The absence of something vital -- that is the horrific part, the apocalyptic vision of a nightmare future. But, I, myself, foresee something more optimistic: This may sound a little cynical on my part, but wouldn't this be preferable? As we say in California, where I live, when the police come to investigate a burglary of your house, they find, when they are leaving, that someone has stripped the tires and motor and transmission from their car, and the officers must hitchhike back to headquarters.
This thought may strike fear in the hearts of the establishment people, but frankly it make me feel cheerful. Even the most base schemes of human beings are preferable to the most exalted tropisms of machines. I think this, right here, is one of the valid insights possessed by some of the new youth: They are really all alike.
It is the person inside who, when gone, cannot be duplicated, at any price. Even if we do not like him we cannot do without him. And once gone, he will never come back. And then, too, if he is made into an android, he will never come back, never be again human. Or anyhow most likely will not. As the children of our world fight to develop their new individuality, their almost surly disrespect for the verities we worship, they become for us -- and by "us" I mean the establishment -- a source of trouble.
I do not necessarily mean politically active youth, those who organize into distinct societies with banners and slogans -- to me, that is a reduction into the past, however revolutionary those slogans may be. I refer to the intrinsic entities, the kids each of whom is on his own, doing what we call "his thing. Still, a law is being broken. The first transgression has political, theoretical overtones; the second, a mere lack of agreement that one must always do what one is ordered to do -- especially when the order comes from a posted, printed sign.
In both cases there is disobedience. We might applaud the first as Meaningful. The second merely irresponsible. And yet it is in the second that I see a happier future. After all, there have always been in history movements of people in organized opposition to the governing powers. This is merely one group using force against another, the outs versus the ins. It has failed to produce a utopia so far. And I think always will. Becoming what I call, for lack of a better term, an android, means as I said, to allow oneself to become a means, or to be pounded down, manipulated, made into a means without one's knowledge or consent -- the results are the same.
But you cannot turn a human into an android if that human is going to break laws every chance he gets. And, most of all, predictability. It is precisely when a given person's response to any given situation can be predicted with scientific accuracy that the gates are open for the wholesale production of the android life form.
What good is a flashlight if the buld lights up only now and then when you press the button? Any machine must always work, to be reliable.
The android, like any other machine, must perform on cue. But our youth cannot be counted on to do this; it is unreliable. Either through laziness, short attention span, perversity, criminal tendencies -- whatever label you wish to pin on the kid to explain this unreliability is fine.
He just plain will not jump when the whip is cracked. And so he is of no use to us, the calcified, entrenched powers. He will not see to it that he acts as an instrument by which we both keep and augment those powers and the rewards -- for ourselves -- that go with them.
What has happened is that there has been too much persuasion. The television set, the newspapers -- all the so-called mass media, have overdone it. Words have ceased to mean much to these kids; they have had to listen too many. They cannot be taught, because there has been too great an eagerness, too conspicuous a motive, to make them learn.
The anti-utopia science fiction writers of fifteen years ago, and I was one of them, foresaw the mass communications propaganda machinery grinding everyone down into mediocrity and uniformity. But it is not coming out this way. While the car radio dins out the official view on the war in Vietnam, the young boy is disconnecting the speaker so he can replace it with a tweeter and a woofer; in the middle of the government's harangue the speaker is unattached.
And, as he expertly hooks up better audio components in his car, the boy fails even to notice that the voice on the radio is trying to tell him something. HIs head is turned toward immediate realities, the speaker itself, not the flatuus voci dinning from it.
The totalitarian society envisioned by George Orwell in should have arrived by now. The electronic gadgets are here. The government is here, ready to do what Orwell anticipated. So the power exists, the motive, and the electronic hardware. But these mean nothing, because, progressively more and more so, no one is listening. The new youth that I see is too stupid to read, too restless and bored to watch, too preoccupied to remember.
The collective voice of the authorities is wasted on him; he rebels. But rebels not out of theoretical, ideological considerations, only out of what might be called pure selfishness. Plus a careless lack of regard for the dread consequences the authorities promise him if he fails to obey.
He cannot be bribed because what he wants he can build, steal, or in some curious, intricate way acquire for himself. He cannot be intimidated because on the streets and in his home he has seen and participated in so much violence that it fails to cow him. He merely gets out of its way when it threatens, or, if he can't escape, he fights back. When the locked police van comes to carry him off to the concentration camp the guards will discover that while loading the van they have failed to note that another equally hopeless juvenile has slashed the tires.
The van is out of commision. And while the tires are being replaced, the other youth siphons out all the gas from the gas tank for his souped-up Chevrolet Impala and has sped off long ago. The absolutely horrible technological society -- that was our dream, our vision of the future. We could foresee nothing equipped with enough power, guile, or whatever, to impede the coming of that dreadful, nightmare society.
It never occured to us that the delinquent kids might abort it out of the sheer perverse malice of their little individual souls, God bless them. Here, as a case in point, are two excerpts from the media; the first, quoted in that epitome of the nauseating, Time, is -- so help me -- what Time calls "the ultimate dream in telephone service" as described by Harold S.
As soon as he can talk, he is given a watch-like device with ten little buttons on one side and a screen on the other. When he wishes to talk with anyone in the world, he will pull out the device and punch on the keys the number. Then, turning the device over, he will hear the voice of his friend and see his face on the screen, in color and in three dimensions. If he does not see him and hear him, he will know that his friend is dead.
It is really sad. Anyhow; it is not going to happen. The kids have already seen to that.Ejercicio de Choques Inelásticos
This is what the L. Times says, in an article dated earlier this year: The homemade MF'ers varied in size and design. One was a sophisticated pocket transistor built by a PhD in engineering, another the size of a cigar box with an actual coupler attaching to the phone receiver.
So far, these phone freaks had devised 22 ways to make a free call without using credit cards. In case of a slipup, the phone freaks also know how to detect 'supervision,' phone company jargon for a nearly inaudible tone which comes on the line before anyone answers to register calling charges.
As soon as phone freaks detect the dreaded 'supervision,' they hang up fast. He got his name from the whistle found in the Cap'n Crunch breakfast cereal box. Crunch discovered that the whistle has a frequency of cycles per second, the exact frequency the telephone company uses to indicate that a line is idle, and of course, the first frequency phone freaks learn how to whistle to get 'disconnect,' which allows them to pass from one circuit to another.
Crunch, intent, hunched over his box to read a list of country code numbers. He impersonated to the overseas operator, and called Italy. In less than a minute he reached a professor of classical Greek writings at the University of Florence. None of us science fiction writers foresaw phone freaks. Fortunately, neither did the phone company, which otherwise would have taken over by now. But this is the difference between dire myth and warm, merry reality.
And it is the kids, unique, wonderful, unhampered by scruples in any traditional sense, that have made the difference. Speaking in science fiction terms, I now foresee an anarchistic totalitarian state ahead. Ten years from now a TV street reporter will ask some kid who is president of the United States, and the kid will admit that he doesn't know. He used to say the same thing. And when the reporter goes to gather up his equipment he will find that one his color 3-D stereo microphone-vidlens systems is missing; the kid has swiped it from him while the reporter was blabbing on.
If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: If the television screen is going to watch you, rewire it late at night when you're permitted to turn it off -- rewire it in such a way that the police flunky monitoring the transmission from your living room mirrors back his living room at his house.
When you sign a confession under duress, forge the name of one of the political spies who's infiltrated your model airplane club. Pay your fines in counterfeit money or rubber checks or stolen credit cards. Give a false address. Arrive at the courthouse in a stolen car. Tell the judge that if he sentences you, you will substitute aspirin tablets for his daughter's birth control pills. Or put His Honor on a mailing list for pornographic magazines.
Or, if all else fails, threaten him with your using his telephone credit card number to make unnecessary long distance calls to cities on other planets. It will not be necessary to blow up the courthouse any more. Simply find some way to defame the judge -- you saw him driving home one night on the wrong side of the road with his headlights off and a fifth of Seagram's VO propped up against his steering wheel.
And his bumper sticker that night read: He has of course torn the sticker off by now, but both you and ten of your friends witnessed it. And they are all at pay phones right now, ready to phone the news to the local papers. And, if he is still so foolish as to sentence you, at least ask him to give back the little tape recorder you inadvertently left in his bedroom.
Since the off switch on it is broken, it has probably recorded its entire ten-day reel of tape by now. Results should be interesting. And if he tries to destroy the tape, you will have him arrested for vandalism, which, in the totalitarian state of tomorrow, will be the supreme crime.
David Bravo: Propiedad Intelectual Archivos
What is your life worth in his eyes compared with a three dollar reel of mylar tape? The tape is probably government property, like everything else, so to destroy it would be a crime against the state. The first step in a calculated, sinister insurrection. I wonder if you recall the so-called "brain mapping" developed by Penfield recently; he was able to locate the exact centers in the brain from which each sensation, emotion, and response came. By stimulating one minute area with an electrode, a laboratory rat was transfigured into a state of perpetual bliss.
Or the substandard wiring connecting the brains of the population with the Washington D. Thought Control Center would overload, and a surge of electricity would roll backward over the lines and set fire to the White House.
Or is this just wishful thinking on my part? A little fantasy about a future society we should really feel apprehensive toward?
The continued elaboration of state tyranny such as we in science fiction circles anticipate in the world of tomorrow -- our whole preoccupation with what we call the "anti-utopian" society -- this growth of state invasion into the privacy of the individual, its knowing too much about him, and then, when it knows, or thinks it knows, something it frowns on, its power and capacity to squash the individual -- as we thoroughly comprehend, this evil process utilizes technology as its instrument.
The inventions of applied science, such as the almost miraculously sophisticated sensor devices right now traveling back from war use in Vietnam for adaptation to civilian use here -- these passive infrared scanners, sniperscopes, these chrome boxes with dials and gauges that can penetrate brick and stone, can tell the user what is being said and done a mile away within a tightly sealed building, be it concrete bunker or apartment building, can, like the weapons before them, fall into what the authorities would call "the wrong hands" -- that is, into the hands of the very people being monitored.
Like all machines, these universal transmitters, recording devices, heatpattern discriminators, don't in themselves care who they're being use by or against. The scene of a street fracas where, for example, some juvenile has dropped a water-filled balloon into the sportscar of a wealthy taxpayer -- this vehicle, however fast, however well-armed and animated by the spirit of righteous vengeance, can be spotted by the same lens by which its superiors became aware of the disturbance in the first place Before the absolute power of the absolute state of tomorrow can achieve its victory it may find such things as this: Let me give you an example.
At the enormous civic center building in my county, a fantastic Buck Rogers type of plastic and chrome backdrop to a bad science fiction film, each visitor must pass through an electronic field that sets off an alarm if he has on him too much metal, be it keys, a watch, pair of scissors, bomb.
When the hoop pings -- and it always pings for me -- a uniformed policeman immediately fully searches the visitor. A sign warns that if any weapon is discovered on a visitor, it's all over for him -- and the sign also warns that if any illegal drugs are found on a visitor, during this weapons search, he's done for, too. Now, I think even you people up here in Canada are aware of the reason for this methodical weapons search of each visitor to the Marin County Civic Center -- it has to do with the tragic shootout a year or so ago.
But, and they have officially posted notice of this, the visitor will be inspected for narcotics possession, too, and this has nothing to do with either the shootout or with any danger to the building itself or the persons within it. An electronic checkpoint, legitimately set up to abort a situation in which explosives or weapons are brought into the Civic Center, has been assigned an added police function connected with the authentic issue only by the common thread of penal code violation.
To visit the county library, which is in that building, you are subject to search -- must in fact yield absolutely and unconditionally -- for possession without juridical protection, built into the very basis of our American civil rights system, that some clear and evident indication exist that you may be carrying narcotics before a search can be carried against you.
During this search I've even had the uniformed officer at the entrance examine the books and papers I was carrying, to see if they were acceptable. The next step, in the months to come, would be to have such mandatory checkpoints at busy intersections and at all public buildings -- including banks and so forth. Once it has been established that the authorities can search you for illegal drugs because you're returning a book to the library, I think you can see just how far the tyranny of the state can go -- once it has provided itself with an electronic hoop that registers the presence of something we all carry on us: The blip, rather a quaint little sound, which you set off, opens a door not leading to the county library but to possible imprisonment.
It is that blip that ushers in all the rest. And how many other blips are we setting off, or our children will be setting off, in context that we know nothing about yet? But my optimistic point: One afternoon when I was parking my car on the lot before a grocery store, I started, as usual, to lock all the car doors to keep the parcels in the back seat from being stolen. Every car here and everyone is being watched all the time; nothing can happen.
And of course she was right; born into this society, she has learned to know such things. And -- I now have a passive infrared scanning system in my own home in Santa Venetia, connected with what is called a "digital transmitting box" which, when triggered off by the scanner, transmits a coded signal by direct line to the nearest law enforcement agency, notifying them that intruders have entered my house.
This totally self-operated electronic detection system functions whether I am at home or not. It is able to discriminate between the presence of a human being and an animal. It has its own power supply.