In “Do androids dream of Electric Sheep” Phillip K. Dick paints a grim vision of future in which AI (Artificial intelligence) is almost indistinguishable from living things. AI resides in robots called “andys” short for androids. Their form, looks, behavior is just like human. Most can blend in perfectly among humans. Very advanced types of androids are the hardest to identify as superficial entities as they appear completely human like. Only the hardest test on empathy can truly identify an android. Empathy, apparently is the hardest thing for Artificial Intelligence to emulate.
The setting of this book is in the near future on planet Earth. The main hero – Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, and his enemies are sophisticated androids who reside on Earth. Until 2021 nuclear warfare rages on the planet earth therefore most of living creatures are annihilated due to radiation from fallout and general destructive nature of war. In this post-apocalyptic world most animals are dead and people are willing to pay huge amounts of money for exotic pets. The role of domesticated home pets is filled by animal looking androids produced by Nexus Corporation. Funny and odd thing it’s that it’s a taboo to ask owners if their animals are real. The world is a chaotic place where TV is propagandized by government, elites leave earth for mars while androids want independence from humans.
Philip K Dick invokes a feeling of dread in his descriptions of destroyed Earth. People live kind of lives which are detached from reality. There are mood adjusters which dumb down normal human responses and people freely use them. The dystopic nature of future and in uncertainty about what I real and living vs what is dead and plastic is the main theme of first 5 chapters.