Made it up

March 20, 2020

“You mean old books?”

“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”

“How could there have been stories about space travel before –“

“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”

Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Ever since the word “robot” first appeared in the English language in the early 1920s (although it was invented by a Czech writer), science fiction writers have warned about the blurring of the distinction between human and machine.

Robots are becoming more and more like humans, such that it may one day become difficult to tell the two apart. But were they ever really so different? Philip K. Dick suggests possibly not, and his vision of replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) – which was to become a classic movie, Blade Runner – certainly poses a lot of important questions.

It’s not just robots we have to worry about these days. AI is now perhaps an even bigger threat than its robot cousins. From the ominous HAL 9000 in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to the “benevolent” AI character Mike in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), we’ve been warned that the power of AI to infiltrate every aspect of our daily lives might one day prove our undoing – and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Mike Ryder
Visions of the future: five dark warnings from the world of classic science fiction

In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, humans enhance the drudgery of their noxious worlds by dialling into a device called the “Penfield Mood Organ.” They have reached the point where they can’t experience their own emotions without the aid of an interface. When Deckard’s wife awakes in the morning, she feels nothing whatsoever but she has a vague sense of depression, so she punches a number into the mood organ, like a jukebox, and the organ channels the emotion into her. That she chooses a negative emotion attests to how detached humans have become from their feelings. Feeling depressed is almost a novelty. Deckard admits to dialling into the mood organ more often than he’d like. His number is 481 and it projects “an awareness of the manifold possibilities open to me in the future.” Or hope . . . albeit through a surrogate.

Alex Lyras
More real that real: Philip K Dick’s visionary posthumanism

required to do wrong

May 25, 2019

You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.

Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Required to do wrong…

February 5, 2016

dead-island-XianMei

You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.

Phillip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep