Can a machine have a soul?

The title of the book, “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” is sure to catch the attention of some passerby, but it brings up the question, can a machine have a soul?

The world of this book takes place after a terrible war has wrecked planet Earth. A war that cut down the population of humans and changed the way everyone lived. It is an interesting premise for a science fiction story, especially since its set place on the damaged planet rather than one of the many alien worlds. The androids of this world are also another interesting component, especially the ones that murder their masters and run off. It brings the question, why? Did the android get tired of having no purpose of its own? or did it feel superior to its master? I am sure that their reasons will be given later in the book, but comparisons can be made to slavery. These androids look as human as an actual human being, and are capable of being much smarter than the average human being. They are chained to the will of their masters, and their only reason for existence is to serve the will of their owner, as a workhand or a servant. On page 17, there is even a reference to slavery, “-duplicates the halcyon days of the pre-Civil War southern States!”. That’s how they are marketed, as your personal slave. They are just machines so it does not matter! A feeling I’m sure the androids don’t agree with.

Another major component that I have noticed is the importance placed on animals. The character Rick Deckard, who I believe is the protagonist, is consistently thinking about animals. He owns an electric sheep, basically an android version of a sheep, but desperately wants to own a live animal. His constant inquiries into the purchases of animals and his possession of a catalog which he carries with him all the time and uses all the time speaks volumes to the importance of animals in this world. It is not clear why that is, but by inductive reasoning, it can be assumed that after the war wiped out many of Earth’s creatures, there was a large effort placed into keeping these animals alive. Perhaps it is a way for humanity to atone for their sins? To correct the damage done to the planet? It is unclear where the importance of animals came into the world, but they are used as a way to prove that the owner of the animal has some empathy.

Empathy is important part of these people lives. It is practiced through the care of the animals, as well as through the use of a device called the empathy box. It seems the empathy box allows people from all over the galaxy to join together in the struggle of a single man  on his difficult journey. Together they experience his hardship. Somehow this helps people become more empathetic, a feeling that is greatly valued. Again like the animals, it is a mystery as to why that is. Did the war cause so much horror people needed a way to retain their humanity? I have no idea, but I hope the book can provide an answer.

A theme I have noticed throughout the book is silence. Several times silence, or emptiness, is described as an actual thing, rather than just being the absence of noise. On page 20, a description is given as to how silence moves in after the television set has been shut off. It is also mentioned with all the empty houses that exist in this desolate world, as well as loneliness.

The ideas of empathy and emptiness point to an idea that the Author is trying to convey. This combined with androids, machines who are unable to empathize, and the question as to whether a machine is capable of having a soul has caught my interest into the story that Philip Dick is trying to tell.

Response to The Machine Stops/Metropolis

I have never blogged before so this feels a little awkward, but I will do my best to write to the best of my abilities.

The machine stops starts off like many Sci fi stories, Dropping you in the middle of a world that leaves you with many questions and does not answer them until later in the story. It describes a world where Humans have stopped doing anything themselves, merely relying on survival through the actions of the Machine. The Machine seems to be some kind of large construct that was built to help make lives easier, but over time, became the hands of man. Doing everything in order to keep its former masters alive. The description provided of the lives of these individual paints a bleak outlook on the way humans have progressed into the future. A progression that can be called a regression.

They have no understanding of what it means to be human and just reading their views and actions, represented by the actions of Vashti, filled me with anger. They believed themselves so sophisticated and civilized when everything they did, did not make any sense and was backwards. This is obviously influenced by my views as a normal semi healthy human being and could be different had I been in their shoes, but the views of Vashti’s son after he begins to recapture what it means to be humans enforces my feelings. Here is a man that began to question his way of living. A man that felt there was more to life than just living in a box. His adventure out into the world filled me with hope for these people, but reading how they became less humans by completing their isolatons and worshipping the hand that feeds them made me lose all hope.

At this point I felt that there was no point for the to live, and as dark as it may sound, death was the only way for them to really be free. This probably sounds psychotic, but once the machine began to fail I hoped that their whole world would end. The only reason I welcomed their death was because of what Kuno said. He saw actual humans living outside their cells. Humans who were actually Humans. This meant that our race would continue to live, without the dependence on a machine and with everything that makes us human. I consider the ending to be a happy ending, even with all the death and chaos that happens at the end. Perhaps a bit dark, but I did enjoy the story, or rather I really liked the end. Reading their reactions as their world fell apart brought me joy.

The movie Metropolis is a silent movie about a great city and the struggle of the workers within. I really enjoyed the music and I’m sure if it was the original soundtrack, I would not have felt the same way. The acting was well done, being able to convey the emotions and at the same time making the movie much darker. I honestly did not finish watching it so I cannot say much about. although I did like the dark nature of it, its something I like in my stories.

My Late Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Joel and I’m here writing my late introduction because I did not read it was due Sunday. Nothing I can do about it now except actually write it.

I am majoring in CET, Computer Engineering Technology. I currently have a part time job working in a liquor store, but I am having serious second thoughts on holding a job and taking classes. Over my break I worked, and worked, and worked. For the summer I’m planning something more fun. Summer work. My only goals right now is to complete me degree. After that, I’ll let future me worry about it. My current interests are reading, movies, video games, and running. I’ve always had an interest in Science Fiction, it being my favorite genre. in all my hobbies, sci fi has been my go to genre, mostly in books and movies, but it does not mean I will shun everything else out. For instance, Warhammer 40k has been my current reading addiction and I’m looking forward to the new movie Jupiter rising, mostly because of how pretty it looks to be.

I feel my writing skills are pretty solid. for my major I am required to write a number of lab reports, and going by my grades, I do pretty well on them. If that’s not a good indicator of my writing skills, then lab reports are pointless. If the papers I write get below a B, I will describe myself as being delusional. Although creative writing is something I have not done much of, so I cant say for sure how well I will do writing stories.

I enjoy reading because of the immersion it provides, same with my other interests. They provide an exit and adventure the normal lives we live. When I am reading a warhammer 40k book, I am with the space marines on some distant planet, watching as they fight off xeno scum, or watching an enormous space battle take place for the fate of the world they battle over. They provide worlds and pictures that come from people whose imaginations thought them up. I am not saying I am incapable of creating something similar, but rather I am too lazy to do something like that. It is because of this that I love reading.

I had a class before where I had to post my lab reports on open lab, but that is the extent of my experience with open lab. To me science fiction is made by those who work in the field of science and whose imaginations run wild, or those who look up at the stars and dream about them. These people manage to build worlds that are filled with adventure and wonderment, whose landscapes can fill one with awe. Whose creatures both frighten and capture our attention. Sure there are some that think of Science Fiction as being for nerds and geeks, but that’s not true. Its for those that enjoy having their imaginations stimulated, who enjoy reading about the latest expedition through the wormhole or if the alien invasion was stopped. It is about stories that cannot exist within the real world and this exoticness catches our attention. I think the reason the course is full of dudes is because it is normal for guys to like Sci fi, something that “is not for ladies”. I believe that its not becoming the case as more girls get into the genre, but there were other classes that were not focused on Sci fi, and those were probably a more comfortable choice. I am sure in the new classes, more girls will be present. As for why a woman professor is teaching the class, I figured it was just another class for her to teach as she did mention she teaches a number of English classes. Perhaps being a lover a literature, science fiction managed to become another genre for her to like much like a movie watcher can like dramas, comedies, and horror all at the same time. I don’t really have a favorite author because that is something I don’t ever pay attention to, except for the authors of series I am reading. So I guess I actually have a favorite. Dan Abnett is an author of Warhammer books  and I have noticed his work being much more engaging than others.

I’m hoping this course will open up more stories to me. I normally read stories that involve a lot of war and battles, but I am interested in reading the other stories that exist in the genre. I do think this class will be one of my favorites.