Hey all this week we have read the first five chapters of “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” Through out the story we slowly see what this futuristic earth has become and how humanity has adapted to it. The story does not tell you everything at once so in the beginning we get small bits of information on a war, mutation, the extinction of almost all species on earth and rouge androids that must be put down. The main character Rick is a bounty hunter who’s job is to hunt down and kill lose androids that no longer follow order’s. Through Rick’s experiences we see many conflicting traits showing how technology and nature have become analogous.
Are android’s equal to humans? That’s the question I found myself asking while i read the first page. We start at a scene where Rick starts his morning arguing with his wife Iran. On page 4 they tell each other
“You’re a murderer hired by the cops.
“I’ve never killed a human being in my life”…
Iran said “just those poor andys.”
This conversation here shows us two separate opinions on androids and how they should be treated. Iran clearly shows concern for them thinking of them as though they are alive. We see a sympathetic side of her when she calls them “poor andys”. While Rick on the other hand does not declare them human and uses that to justify his job. Rick’s choice of words degrades androids by making them something less important than a human life.
Their are also similarities between nature and technology through the use of animal’s. In this future taking care of an animal is a norm, but because most of the animals on earth were wiped out most people get robotic androids even though its looked down upon. Rick has an electric sheep which he feels bad about but cant afford to get a real sheep. He describes it on pg12 as he talks to Barbour about it
“Its a premium job. And I’ve put as much time and attention into caring for it as i did when it was real. But- ‘ He shrugged.
“Its not the same,” Barbour finished.
“But almost as you feel the same doing it; you have to keep your eye on it exactly as you did when it was really alive. Because they break down and everyone in the building knows…”
While Rick holds some apathy to androids he clearly uses them to cope with his desire to own an animal. Rick explains that in order to maintain he has to put in the same amount of effort for a real sheep. The difference is that now Rick must do it in order not to look bad in front of his neighbors. We see how shameful this is on pg 13 when Barbour says ” You know how people are about not taking care of an animal; they consider it immoral and anti empathetic…” Rick only holds on to his robotic sheep only so that the community will not think bad again. The strange thing is that while everyone tries to own a real animal Rick cant and must pretend to do so with a false animal.
Rick also shows traits of becoming less human like by incorporating technology into his body. We are introduced to whats called a mood organ in the story. My understanding of what the mood organ is that it is a device that connects to a human, it is then capable of taking in direct codes in order to alter the mood of a human being to whatever they please. This artificial control of the emotions we see here show’s the user directly controlling what they want to feel through machines and code. The first example of how the mood organ works is shown on pg4 “At his console he hesitated between dialing a thalmic suppressant… or thalmic stimulant.” Here we see how Rick no longer feels emotions, or makes decisions like normal human, his actions and emotions are all dictated by technology he wields. In a way his human reactions have now become more mechanical and controlled similar to a robot in today’s standard’s. Rick’s line of work demands for him to become colder.
Lastly Ricks job demands him to constantly interact with androids and in effect we see how androids are beginning to blend into human civilization. On pg 29 we read the line
“We had better just accept the new unit as a fact of life,” he said “It”s always been this way, with every improved brain unit that’s come along.”
Here we see an evolution of androids when we learn about the new “Nexus 6” capable of seeming almost human. Rick states that the differece between human and android is empathy. Humans are social creatures and nothing like predators, so they have evolutionary benefits from being empathetic. On pg 31 Rick states
“A herd of animal such as man would acquire a higher survival factor through this; an owl or a cobra would be destroyed. Evidently the humanoid robot constituted a solitary predator.”
Rick’s job demands him to kill Androids that become more advanced and similar to humans with each upgrade. I question Ricks roll here when we look at the quote since he himself is a predator of androids trying to make money by hunting them. Since Rick is a predator should we question whether he can lose the defining trait that separates humans and androids which is empathy.
Well that’s all folks!
Great response Ruben! I’ve chosen this a as “featured post” 🙂