ENG 2420: Science Fiction

City Tech, Fall 2016

Category: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (page 4 of 5)

Empathy for Androids

As we continue reading through chapters 6-15 of, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, we are presented with many instances as to whether or not humans can actually empathize with androids.  As we are presented with scenes demonstrating interactions between humans and androids, there are specific mentality focuses presented with several characters.  Relative to empathy, characters such as Phil Resch , Rick Deckard, and John Isidore, lay down a scale for us in terms of empathy for androids.

Evidently the most cold-hearted out of the three, Phil Resch presented no empathy towards androids whatsoever.  An instance, where we see the true colors of Resch are presented when both he and Deckard go to retire Luba Luft.  Right before retiring Luft, Deckard bought Luft a book which contained a picture that she liked.  When Resch saw what was occurring in front him, he mentions, “My departmental budget could never in a million years be stretched-” (133).  Based on this quote, we can draw the conclusion that Resch would never grant the final wishes of any android that he retires.  In addition, Resch would also never agree to understand these androids.  Another instance, would be when Luft provokes Resch, comparing her idea of imitating with Resch and his position as a bounty hunter, Phil mentions, “I can’t take this” (134).  Meaning, that he exemplifies the stereotypical image of a real bounty hunter.  Which is someone who seeks out a target for the sake of a reward and evidently feelings from the target will never derail him from doing his job.  He also views these androids as machines, machines that will never be declared as humans.

Rick on the other hand, started off as a regular bounty hunter similar to Resch, but as he gets to know some of his targets, he begins to empathize with androids.  The first encounters with these Nexus-6 type androids was not pleasant with Deckard.  Polokov attempted to kill him by confrontation and Garland tried to do the same thing, both of which ended up failing to do.  With Luba Luft it was a bit different.  After Luft was retired by Resch, Rick was furious with him.  He was literally baffled that Resch was able to retire her so easily without any remorse.  He also contemplated about testing others for feelings towards androids.  The text mentions, “He had never thought of it before, had never felt any empathy on his own part toward the androids he killed.  Always he had assumed that throughout his psyche he experienced the android as a clever machine – as in his conscious view … Empathy toward an artificial construct? he asked himself.  Something that only pretends to be alive?  But Luba luft had seemed genuinely alive; it had not worn the aspect of a simulation” (141).  Obviously to Rick, Luft was thought of as a normal person trying to live a normal life.  Or, he was only able to empathize with her because of his admiration of operas.  But most importantly, he viewed her as a person not as a machine.  Through imitation, Luft was able to portray herself as a normal person and not act intellectually cold, as most androids seem to do.  Because of this, Luft did not appear synthetic to Rick and he felt as though a real person was murdered by Resch.  I believe that Rick obtained his empathy for androids, not because of his admiration for operas or his attraction towards female androids, but that he believes that androids can change themselves to become human.

Being treated differently by humans for being a special, John Isidore can empathize the most with androids as humans treat them differently as well.  As we know, three of the eight escaped androids from mars remain operational, and they are residing within the same apartment complex as John.  The androids begin conversing about their home planet, Mars.  All of them stating that Mars is a horrible place to live.  Once Isidore discovers that they are androids, he mentions, “‘But what does it matter to me? I mean, I’m a special; they don’t treat me very well either, like for instance I can’t emigrate'” (163).  Evidently, Isidore is the only one out of all the characters that can truly understand how an android feels.  His treatment from other humans hasn’t been the best experience, and he can relate that for androids, it’s been pretty much the same.  They are both neglected as being human, from all of the other normal humans within this society.  As a special, you lack intelligence, and as an android, you lack empathy.  Both of which, are essential to be declared as a normal human.

In general, understanding the concept of being human involves many complex emotions and the ability to feel.  From these three characters, we are able to familiarize ourselves with how the levels of empathy for androids are scaled for humans.  Phil represents humans who view androids as machines, Deckard represents humans who can view some of them as human, and Isidore evidently accepts them completely.  Overall, whether or not someone can view an android as a human, depends on the individual.

 

 

 

 

A Realization

Rick Deckard is starting to doubt himself and possibly the reasoning behind his job entirely. He realizes how crafty these new types really are. Rick has notices in his run in with the Android Luba Luft that he has sympathy for the Andy’s. The unexpected retiring of Luba in the elevator by Phil Resch has shown to him that he feels for female types, but in reality as Phil Resch pointed out to him “if its love toward a woman or an android imitation, its sex” (page 143). This was proven true because when rick was told that Phil is an android by Garland he believed it entirely, felt nothing when he knew it was only a matter of time before he will retire him during their retreat. “you’re everything we jointly abominate. The essence of what we’re committed to destroy” (page 127).  His reaction towards Phil a suspected android is that of hate, and he simply didn’t like him because of it. But when he thinks or mentions Luba Luft its of admiration “I’ve had enough. She was a wonderful singer. The planet could have used her. This is insane” (page 136). “But Luba Luft had seemed genuinely alive: it had not worn the aspect of a simulation” (page 141). Rick realized you can have empathy towards something artificial like the Androids, and that would include them in their range for animals. If they did that then they can no longer retire Androids they would have to be protected under the law. “If we included androids in our rage of emphatic identification, as we do animals. We couldn’t protect ourselves (page 141)”. If the androids are protected under these laws there would be nothing stopping them from leaving their masters on mars.

In the grand scheme of things Rick understands that he and his profession are needed to stop these new types, “perhaps the better she functions, the better a singer she is, the more i am needed. If androids had remained substandard, like the ancient q-40’s made by Derain associates– there would be no problem and no need for my skill” (page 99). Rick’s happy that these news types are keeping him in business as much as he is amazed at their progression.  The possibilities he seen in Luba Luft opened rick’s eyes to the real threat that he and humanity are facing on earth. “These nexus-6 types…..they’d roll all over us and mash us flat. You and I, all the bounty hunters–we stand between the Nexus-6 and mankind, a barrier which keeps the two distinct” (page 141). Rick Deckard thought of himself as a good bounty hunter, but these new Nexus-6 models prove difficultly he wasn’t prepared for. “You’re a good bounty hunter, Rick realized. Your attitude proves it. But am I? Suddenly, for the first time in his life, he had begun to wonder”  (page 144).

Androids or Humans

The world is becoming really complicated. In Do Androids Dream of electric sheep? the line between human and Androids are really thin. The characters in do androids dream of sheep become conflicted. The conflict is between whether or not androids should have rights. This conflict is brought about by the realism of the androids. Should androids be left alone? Do androids have more value past servitude? Do androids deserve to be free and live out life like a human? It is possible for technology to be taken too far and the androids in do androids dream of sleep is a perfect example.

The human characters and even the androids in do androids dream of sheep have to question the significance in their differences. Androids are barely distinguishable and almost human. Rick states, “other humans, having no knowledge of the android presence amongst them had to be protected”(131). Meaning they can go about the world a human being. Rick ask himself, “Do androids dream?…Evidently; that’s why they occasionally kill their employers and flee here” (184). Rick has to question if androids have feelings and emotions like humans. He is beginning to become more empathetic towards the androids. He is also discovering reasons why androids may not be so menacing in harmful. For example, he feels Miss Luft is not seen by him as a threat. Androids are able to adapt their feelings. Rick states, “in two cases that I know of, andy’s owned and cared for animals” (130). This shows andy’s are able to adopt human traits.

Technology is taken too far because there is no fine line between the human and the android. In order to meet the needs of humans they create a slave android that resembles a human entity to expand their capabilities and end up recreating history. Here we have technology being used to mirror slavery. The androids are too advanced to bow down to mistreatment. Now those androids are not content and on the run technology is causing humans to question and fear for their safety. The only problem is, are the androids not safe because of their reaction to the actions of human or vice versa.

The True Meaning of Being Human

Reading through the chapters of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Phillip Dick we notice that the main idea the author tries to convey to his readers involves question: what makes us human? One might say that we are categorized as humans because we are able to create memories, share with others, build new things, etc. However, in the novel, the main response of this question is that humans are humans because they are capable of feeling empathy, as the word appears in mostly all the chapters in the book. In this futuristic era, people are subjected to several tests such as the Voigt-Kampff and the Boneli Reflex-Arc test to determine whether an individual is a human being or a humanoid robot. But not everything seems simple as it is, because in some of these chapters, there seems to be internal conflicts among the characters that puts in doubt the distinction between what is human and no human. Two characters who seen to portray conflicts with themselves are shown through the characters of Rickard Deckard and Pris Stratton. Both entities, human and android, are presented to different situations that makes them think and act in a different way than the rest of their society. By using the two major characters of this futuristic world, Huxley tries to make his readers understand that in this futuristic world where humans are to the verge of extinction, androids can also, for all intents and purposes, experience what truly is being human.

Rick Deckard is one human character in the novel who presents a conflict inside him that puts in consideration his own humanness. In the beginning of the chapters, Rick is described as a cold and crude person, willing to kill anything that can threat his own self-interest. We notice that he does not demonstrate empathy towards owning an animal, on the contrary, he sees it more like a form of increasing his social status in society. However, there is a crux in the novel that changes and puts in doubt Rick’s perspective towards human life. For instance, after being arrested for attempting to kill Luba Luft, the android singer, Rick is presented to a parallel reality where his status as a human being are put in doubt. He is brought to a police department with members that perform the same work that he is trying to do. However, any of the members of this department are aware of Rick’s existence and start accusing him of being an android disguise as a bounty hunter who kills humans that threaten his permanence in Earth. This new reality becomes a disorienting experience for Rick as all notions of identity and being human are put into doubt. Furthermore, his encounter with Phil Resch becomes a major event in the novel, as Rick begins to question what it signifies to be alive and what are the lines that divide the real and unreal. This is revealed when Phil kills the android Luba Luft without any sign of compassion. The act makes Rick take the decision to stop killing androids. As he states to Phil “I can’t anymore; I’ve had enough. She was a wonderful singer. The planet could have used her”(136). Rick gets devastated of the assassination of Luba Luft since he started to sympathize with the android. The when he takes the empathy test, Rick discovers that he is “capable of feeling empathy for at least specific, certain androids”(142). This turn of events make Rick think that androids can also show human emotions and share similar experiences to that which they copy.

On the android side, a character who also reveals internal conflicts is found in Pris Stratton. Pris is an android who escapes the slavery inflected in the planet Mars, searching refuge and freedom in Earth. She is seen as the antagonist in the story as she, and her other android friends, plot to get rid of the bounty hunters that are chasing them. At first, Pris is presented as a humanoid that shows no signs of emotions or empathy feelings. This is revealed in her encounter with Isidore, who states that something “deplorable” like a “coldness”(67) is hidden inside her. However, as we continue the chapters, we observe that, despite her sense of vengeance and humanoids qualities, Pris displays occasional signs of human emotions that let the readers think what does truly mean to be human. This feeling of human connection is depicted through Pris relationship with John Isidore. For instance, Isidore tells Pris the reason why she behaves in a heartless and cold way is because she does not possess any friends in Earth. However, she reveals her friendship with the other fugitive androids and, as stated by Dick, she expresses it with a “sudden authority stiffened her voice; she palpably regain vigor”(147), meaning that she truly defends her bonds of friendship that she has with these other androids as she also depicted them as her best friends. Another example where Pris shows human emotions is when Isidore is preparing the dinner for both of them. Pris senses Isidore’s caring despite the fact that she is an android. Seeing the care and love radiated from this human being makes Pris feel more like a normal human being as she shows it when she “put her arms around his waist and for an instant pressed against him”(149). Through this action, we notice that Pris becomes more human when she gets closer to a compassionate and unselfish spirit, in this case the good Isidore. By showing these examples, Phillip Dick offers his readers the idea that what truly makes someone a human, or real, is when that person gets in contact with the noble values in life, such as friendship and love.

Alive or not

How alive does something have to be before you have to say that it is? How much does it have to be before you have no other choice but to admit that is human? If you say that all living things even insects and worms are important and have the right to live, then why not something that is almost as human as you are. Biological vs mechanical, if you reach a point where it is near impossible to see the difference then is there really a need to separate the two? Should androids be owned, or should they be free to choose their own path in life? Particularly if they seek freedom and kill to get it.

The line between what is or is not human is very small when dealing with androids who were made to completely mimic humans and are capable of questioning their own existence. Add in the possible that they may have false memory which will them believe that they are human and you now have humans who are heartless and androids who have one (140,141,132-134). Other than their crimes of murder to get away from their masters on Mars the androids do not seem to be a threat and just seem to want to live in peace until threatened. However they must pay for their crimes even if they had reasons for doing so such as abuses or missuses by their owners.

However it is also true that they are slaves to their masters, they are property despite the fact that they are sentient being (161,148-150). By all rules on how life and sentient life is determined they pass due to being able to understand their existence, react to outside stimuli and adapt to changes. So humans made fakes so good that the fakes wanted to free, could think, could develop, and wanted to be someone. Humans made something that they could not control, which is rather odd considering that they could have been programed not to be able to kill humans. Also why not have a safety instilled to stop them before they go into anger or rage or desire to kill. If it is possible to make a machine feel that, then it should be possible to stop it as well. Then there is the question of why? Why added in the negatives of humanity into a machine? Why made a replica of humans and all that makes them great as well as bad? It is possible it was to repopulate humanity in way and yet it seems an odd way of doing it. Why were not all people relocated to mars in order to make it produce more as the last safe haven for what remains of the human race? Why allow people to remain in the waste of the old world, when they do not even try to clean the earth? The only reason possible was the need for resources of earth. Many forget that space is vast and for the most part empty. Mars is a wasteland of sand and rock, at one point it could have had life. However it has a weak core that led to a weak gravimetric field and lost its atmosphere due to solar wind. Meaning that many process that are present on earth are not present on Mars. So Earth must still support its children that have ruined it. To help themselves the people created companions that would help them move on from reality, where they helped to end their world.

Androids are highly intelligent and think in a certain way due to their heightened minds. How very that seem to have two sides to it, they appear to suffer from believing that they are better because of faster and better brain (163-164,166-167). All the while they cannot really understand some ideas, actions, reasons and other things that even children are cable of understanding. There seem to be a gap in common ground between creator and creation. Androids also wrestle with the idea of how fake they are and look at the world in a darker shade based on themselves (189-191,193-195). Also they seem to dislike seeing other similar models of themselves as in the case of Rachael and Pris. It proves that they are not special little snowflakes who are made just once. Nothing like another you to see how unoriginal you are, how you are just a copy or maybe she is the copy. Maybe you are both copies, who came before and who came after. Is there a lineage of androids that one can inherit from?

Also as said before a laser is a really bad weapon to use due to the fact that it can be stopped or broken in many different ways. This is why Rick was able to live when the android Polokov tried to kill him with a laser as he did with Dave. Laser are constrained light in a narrow focus and currently they are used in industry for engraving, cutting weak material and other small tasks. They are not effective at long range and would require time to cut through dense objects particularly if they move from where the laser is cutting because it has to burn through all the layers of It. For a laser to be able to be used as weapon it would have to have a large power supply that could near instantly pool all of it for firing, which means that the second shot may make a long time to charge up unless there is more power left after the first shot. This would means that energy storage has gotten better or that the laser is better at converting raw power to a lethal beam. However the laser itself can be broken by failure of one of the parts within like the lens or optics used to focus the beam, if any part of that breaks, gets misaligned or is covered by something it will not fire, fire wrong or explode. Which is the other flaw of it, it requires power and that power cell can blow up if overheated, damaged or tempered with. Also seen is the fact that it can be created into regular light based on a sine wave because light is based on wave lengths and a laser is just focused light (92), regular guns are much more reliable.

Empathic Manipulation

An ongoing theme in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is empathic manipulation. Characters such as, John Isidore show great empathy towards the Androids, and eventually Rick Deckard develop the same compassion for the Androids.  More specifically, the manipulation of humans by the Androids protects their well-being in a mission of rebellion. While Isidore is manipulated by the ways of the Androids, Deckard is conflicted by the significance of android life. In all, the androids have a great ability of making humankind feel as if they are the real-life beings.

Considered a “Chickenhead,” John Isidore is a mild-mannered, timid man who feels compassion for Androids, at the same time idolize the words of Buster Friendly. Alone in an apartment building, Isidore is introduced to his first neighbor, Pris, who is suspected to be an android because of her uncanny resemblance of Rachael Rosen. Pris acted suspicious when Isidore shared his knowledge of the Rosen association the text returns,  “A complicated expression instantly crossed her face fleetingly, gone at once.”(67). Pris continues, I never heard of them; I don’t know anything about it. More of your chickenhead imagination, I suppose. John Isidore and his personal private empathy box, Poor Mr. Isidore.”(67). Pris is clearly on the alert as if she is in hiding, hence Pris moved into the empty building with the shunned chickenhead, Isodore.  Additionally, Pris has very little furniture and wanted to be left alone, despite Isidore’s relentless effort to be neighborly. Moreover, in terms of Isidore idolizing the words of Buster Friendly, Isidore is flabbergasted by Pris unknowing of his idol. Isidore says, she’s never heard of Buster Friendly. And that’s impossible, Buster is the most important human being alive, except of course Wilbur Mercer.” (69).  Aside from Mercerism, Buster Friendly is seen as a deity, as he is the voice of  world.

In parallels,

Rick Deckard started as a bounty hunter who deplored all Androids. However, in the progression of the novel Deckard’s views had drastically change. On somewhat of a “retiring” spree, Deckard encountered Luba Luft, an android disguised as an human opera singer. Luba Luft gives Deckard a hard time while he’s giving her the Voigt-Kampff test. While doing his series of question, Luba Luft countered each question with an inquiry of her own or dismissive answer, evidently throwing Deckard off his game. As this continued, Luba Luft switched the focus on Deckard being an android himself. The text supports, “Maybe there was once a human who looked like you, and somewhere along the line you killed him and took his place. And your superiors don’t know. She smiled. As if inviting him to agree.” (102). In order to extend this conviction, Luba Luft continues the questionnaire, later accusing Deckard to be sexually deviant. As a solution, Luba Luft called the authorities which Deckard was confidant they’ll side with him (being a cop and all). However, Luba Luft called the androids authorities, whom tried their best to twist Deckard’s life upside down by making him think he was an android. It wasn’t until he met Phil Resch, a fellow bounty hunter undercover in the Android police department. There Phil Resch rescued Deckard from the Android’s custody, in addition to killing Inspector Garland, who was also on Deckard’s Nexus-6 hit-list.

Both Deckard and Resch continued on to retire Luba Luft, however in a moment of clarity Rick no longer felt the need. Deckard wrestled Resch as he attempted to save Luba Luft from being retired.(134). Failing to do so Deckard found himself drowning in remorse. Deckard states,  “I can’t follow your reasoning it isn’t rational, that’s why. I’m getting out of this business… They can use androids. Much better if andys do it. I can’t anymore, I’ve had enough. She was a wonderful singer. The planet could have used her. This is insane.”(136) At last, Deckard had finally felt the compassion his wife felt for the Androids, finally seeing them as a part of life rather than false people.  Furthermore, Rick realized something about Resch, as he is seen colder than most. Deckard mentions, “I see a pattern. The way you killed Garland and then the way you killed Luba. You don’t kill the way I do, you don’t try to-Hell. I know what it is. You like to kill. All you need is pretext. If you had pretext you’d kill me.”(137). Deckard noticed the mercilessness in Resch as he doesn’t kill Androids in the name of justice, as he does, but as a means for the sake of killing what is seen wrong.

In the end, by noticing the hatred in Phil Resch, Deckard is able to see himself in another light. An inhumane, dark light which was seen by Iran from the start.  Deckard doesn’t enjoy killing android, but is trapped in a world where hunting andys is his way of survival. And as for Isidore, his neglect from society forces him to embrace and preach the words of the andys as a mean of acceptance.

Masquerade

The witch hunt in Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has human shaped beings accusing one another of being non-human. They strive to prove they’re authentic in a world with no empathy and where nothing is true. The real distinction that matters is not what is human or android, but what is genuine or fake.

After apprehending Luba Loft, Deckard begins questioning the company he’s in, so doe she. “You? Luba Luft said. ‘You’re not human. No more than I am: you’re an android too.” (132)Resch falls into the third unspoken category, non-human. Although the Androids admittedly are incapable of empathy, they have dignity, values and aspirations. Luft is inquisitive; she loves paintings and music. On the other hand, Resch loves to kill. He looks for the opportunity to fire his weapon. Luft and Garland accuse Resch of being an android, perhaps to mislead Deckard. Upon passing the V-K test, the test proves he is not an android. He is confused by Deckard’s burning of the book. As people crowd over Luft’s body in the elevator, Resch never considers covering her up .There is little evidence he is human, Resch himself is uncertain.

Iran herself skirts the definition of genuine humanity. After a disappointing vidcall, Deckard recalls, “Most androids I’ve known have more vitality and desire to live than my wife.” (94) Perhaps it hyperbole from a bitter husband or Iran is indeed slipping into the third category of non-living. The gray is slowly multiplying in the world; it has its tendrils on her. If people are indeed a product of their surroundings, Iran can’t be faulted for feeling empty in a world where color only exists on the TV.

As the Androids placate Isidore, he envisions the faceless killing machine chasing his innocent friends. Dick writes “And so on, until everyone real and alive had been shot.” (158) To him, they are warm; a courtesy few humans have shown him. Despite showing great intelligence and resolve, few see beyond his deformities. Isidore knows little comforts and has few friends. Although the androids are not altruistic in their motivations, to Isidore they are genuine friends. For Isidore, who receives no empathy from humans, the illusions of empathy from the androids make them genuine to Isidore, alive.

Comedian Grouch Marx once said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Both the humans and androids both try to blend in on Earth, both trying to be human, both showing very little that is genuine.  The distinction of human and android is neglectful, but at least the android knows it’s a fake.

Symbolism of Animals

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” By Philip K. Dick is a tale of man vs. machine, even so there is a significance to the continuing theme of animals. In the first five chapters, animals are mentioned frequently. The questions arise, what is the symbolism of animals? Why is Rick Deckard fascinated with animals?

From the moment we are introduced to Deckard, his captivation with animals begins in the first chapter during a morning argument with his wife, Iran. Deckard says, “Instead of saving, so we could buy a real sheep, to replace that fake electric one upstairs. A mere electric animal, and me earning all that I’ve worked my way up to through the years.” (p.4). Now with this comment, the hypothesis made reflected of the novel’s title “Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep,” as one can assume Deckard is an unknowing Android living as a human, with human mannerisms. But then we learn it is normal in this world to have domesticated, wild animals. Which furthers Deckard’s wanting of an animal. As he meets with his neighbor, Barbour, then try to negotiate for Barbour’s as the text states “Ever thought of selling your house. Rick asked. He wished to God he had a horse, in fact any animal.” (p.9). At this moment, it can be alleged Deckard simply enjoy the company of animals, however the theme of animals continued to appear.

Moving forward,

Approaching chapter 3, the reader learn androids are emotionally detached. As mentioned, “For Rick Deckard an escaped humanoid robot, which had killed its master, which had been equipped with an intelligence greater than that of many human beings, which had no regard for animals, which possessed no ability to feel empathic joy another life form’s success or grief at its defeat – that, for him, epitomized The Killers.” (p.32). Then it is realized the assumption of Deckard being an android is false, as Deckard show great passion for animals. While the first theory has been shot, another is made. In theory, being in a destroyed world where the elite have left the Earth and found refuge elsewhere, leaving many to fend for themselves. While the Earth is in ruins most animals died, making them endangered. Therefore, people domesticate wild animals to preserve not only the species, but also hope of restoring the world to its old oasis. In all, the symbolism of the animals is to maintain realism in a robotic world.

 

The Hunt for Androids

Through the first five chapters of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick, we are presented with a post-apocalyptic world, where a world war(W.W.T.) seems to have wiped out most of the human race, and nearly every known animal.  Most of the survivors chose the path of emigration, where individuals would move to another planet and leave the fallout covered Earth.  We are introduced to a Bounty Hunter named Rick Deckard, whose line of work is to “retire” androids that have gone rogue.  As we go along through the chapters, there’s realization that this bounty hunter job is more complicated than it seems.  A device is used in order to help with the process of finding these androids, by helping the hunter distinguish them from humans.  Distinguishing between an android and a human being with the Voigt-Kampff scale is no easy task, though effective, there are limitations.

The Voigt-Kampff scale is used to distinguish an android from a human.  This scale was designed for the sole purpose of discovering androids that have gone rouge, and not make the mistake of killing off a human.  “The Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test, had emerged as criteria by which to judge.  An android, no matter how gifted as to pure intellectual capacity, could make no sense out of the fusion which took place among routinely among the followers of Mercerism”(30).  Mercerism being the religion that the people follow here, have followers that are solely empathetic.  Meaning that they go through this trance where they “connect” to Mercer through the Empathy box mentally and somehow physically.  Since androids are generally considered humans without feelings, it is evident that this device can easily distinguish one from the other.  Unfortunately, there are limitations to this device.

There are possibilities that humans might fail the Voigt-Kampff test due to a mental disorder.  Humans that suffer from schizophrenia are known to have problems controlling their emotions, behavior and thought process.  Hence, it’s possible that humans with this disorder can, possibly, fail the test.  Inspector Bryant mentioned, “The Leningrad psychiatrists think that a small class of humans beings could not pass the Voigt-Kampff scale.  If you tested them in line with police work, you’d assess them as humanoid robots”(38).  So the limitations to the Voigt-Kampff scale is that people that have mental issues are not able to produce the same feelings or responses compared to that of a healthy human.  Therefore, it’s possible to mistaken a human for an android and, worst case scenario, actually kill them.

The advancement of android development is leaving its toll on the reliability of the scale.  The “Nexus-6” as we know is the new type of android that is being distributed by the Rosen orgainization, which seems to have the capabilities to pass the Voigt-Kampff test.  Rachael Rosen was the first subject from the control group to undergo the test, directed by Rick.  Once the test was over, Rick declared that she was an android, but both of the Rosens were able to fool him into thinking that she was a human.  It was only when Rachael mentioned, “‘Your owl, dear,’ ‘Remember?  We’ll tie your home address around its leg and have it fly down San Francisco'”(58), that Deckard was able to realize that there was something off with her.  Normally if a human were to know the gender of an animal, then, in third person, the animal would be referred to as his or her, not its.  With Rachael using “its” when referring to the owl, Rick was able to question her empathetic legitimacy and thus have her take a second test.  Therefore, it is possible that an android as advance as the “Nexus-6” is still unable to emit perfect human qualities.

Overall, the hunt for rogue androids isn’t something to be taken lightly.  Their artificial intelligence is enough to fool anyone at first glance, but with the Voigt-Kampff scale, you can easily trace one to an extent.  What I find interesting though, is how are androids able to kill their masters in the first place?  Is it possible that their masters have pushed them to the limits of their capabilities, which then caused them to rebel?  These are some questions that I’m looking to find answers to in the chapters to come.

 

 

The Difference Between the Human and Nonhuman

Androids dreaming of sheep? Does the title sound mysterious to you? You might wonder why the author gives a human characteristic such as dreaming to a humanoid robot. This is mostly what the novel Do androids dream of electric sheep? written by Philip Dick talks about. Emotions play an important role in the novel as they help to distinguish the difference of what is human or nonhuman. The novel is set in a fictional future world, where war has left disastrous effects in Earth’s life. The World War Terminus have mostly annihilate all forms of life: animals and some humans have died from the exposure to the poisonous radiation whereas others have emigrate from Earth to escape of it. Since most animal life have become extinct from the toxicity of the air, the few remaining individuals who inhabits the surface of Earth are obligated to own an animal as it constitutes a symbol of social status and empathy, a trait that only human beings share. In these first chapters, we follow the life of Rick Deckard who is in charge of eliminating androids that came to inhabit the Earth’s surface, but also the life of John Isidore, a man with a low intellectual capacity who likes his job and enjoys another’s person company. By using these two characters in the novel, Dick wants to show how emotions such as empathy and appreciation of life help us identify what is human or nonhuman.

After the World War Terminus destroyed most of animal life, the individuals remaining in the surface of Earth were required to take responsibility for one animal for each family. Taking care of animal clearly represents having affection towards another individual or in this case a living creature. For this people owning an animal was considered a valuable, almost sacred possession and it signifies a symbol of both social status and empathy because of the almost extinction of animal life. Also, owning an animal and taking care of it represents a tool of empathy and a way to show appreciation towards a creature close to the oblivion. This human trait helps individuals distinguish between androids and humans. Here we are introduced to the character of Rick Deckard who after his real sheep died from tetanus, he tricks his neighbors by using an electric sheep. Due to his low financial stability, Rick cannot afford to buy a real animal, however his desire and need for a real animal to achieve the level of status in the society is present as he tries contacting the pet stores and negotiate deals in an attempt to possess a real animal (33-34).

Mercerism also plays a major element in these chapters as it shows how the sentiments of empathy and appreciation of life help the readers identify what is truly human. This technology-based religion is utilized to bring a sense of togetherness to the individuals who follow them. Followers of this religion use a mysterious device called the “empathy box” and when they grip the twin handles of this empathy box, individuals enter another world where everyone shares the same pain and sufferings of their main leader Wilbur Mercer. One of the characters who establish this connection within Mercer’s mind is a man named John Isidore. As stated in the novel, Isidore “crossed over in the usual perplexing fashion; physical merging—accompanied by mental and spiritual identification—with Wilbur Mercer had reoccurred. As it did for everyone who at this moment clutched the handles, either here on Earth or on one of the colony planets.”(22) Everyone participates in this collective ritual and experiences Mercer’s pain after being hit with a rock, leaving his arm bleeding. Even though this ritual cause Isidore and other individuals a terrible pain, especially elderly ones who “had died, particularly later on at the top of the hill when the torment began in earnest”(25), by being part of this ritual, the individuals share empathy between each other as they understand and feel the pain or joy the other person is going through.

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