Taking Notes: 'The Android and the Human' (1972) by Philip K. Dick

這一篇是 Dick 1972 年二月在溫哥華 the University of British Columbia 的演講稿,首刊於 SF Commentary, No. 31, Dec 1972。裡面的觀點可以和當時 Dick 的作品,特別是 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 做對照。

"The Android and the Human (1972)" in Lawrence Sutin (ed.), The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), pp.183-210.

p. 183
...... In a very real sense our environment is becoming alive, or at least quasi-alive, and in ways specifically and fundamentally analogous to ourselves. Cybernetics, a valuable recent scientific discipline, articulated by the late Norbert Wiener, saw valid comparisons between the behavior of machines and hu-
p. 184

mans -- with the view that a study of machines would yield valuable insights into the nature of our own behavior. By studying what goes wrong with a machine -- for example, when two mutually exclusive tropisms function simultaneously in one of Grey Walter's synthetic turtles, producing fascinatingly intricate behavior in the befuddled turtles -- one learns, perhaps, a new, more fruitful insight into what [in] humans was previously called "neurotic" behavior. But suppose the use of this analogy is turned the other way. Suppose -- and I don't believe Wiener anticipated this -- suppose a study of ourselves, our own nature, enables us to gain insight into the now extraordinary complex functioning and malfunctioning of mechanical and electronic constucts? In other words -- and this is what I wish to stress in what I am studying here -- it is now possible that we can learn about the artificial external environment around us, how it behaves, why, what it is up, by analogizing from what we know about ourselves.


Perhaps, really, what we are seeing is a gradual merging of the general nature of human activity and function into the activity and function of what we humans have built and surround[ed] ourselves with.
p. 185

What would occur to me now as a recasting of the robot-appearing-as-human theme would be a gleaming robot with a telescan lens and a helium-battery power pack, who, when jostled, bleeds. Underneath the metal hull is a heart such as we ourselves have. ...... Anyhow, inadvertently I blended the human and the construct and didn't notice that such a blend might, in time, actually begin to become part of our reality. ......
p. 186
...... Our electronic constructs are becoming so complex that to comprehend them we must now reverse the analogizing of cybernetics and try to reason from our own mentation and behavior to theirs -- although I suppose to assign motive or purpose to them would be to enter the realm of paranoia; what machines do may resemble what we do, but certainly they do not have intent in the sense that we have; they have tropisms, they have purpose in the sense that we build them to accomplish certain ends and to react to certain stimuli. A pistol, for example, is built with the purpose of firing a metal slug that will damage, incapacitate, or kill someone, but this does not mean that the pistol wants to do this. And yet there we are entering the philosophical realm of Spinoza when he saw, and I think with great profundity, that if a falling stone could reason, it would think, "I want to fall at the rate of thirty-two feet per second per second." Free will for us -- that is, when we feel desire, when we are conscious of wanting to do what we do -- may be even for us an illusion; and depth psychology seems to substantiate this: Many of our drives in life originate from an unconscious that is beyond our control. We are driven as are insects, although the term "instinct" is perhaps not applicable for us. Whatever the term, much of our behavior that we feel is the result of our will, may control us to the extent that for all practical purposes we are falling stones, doomed to drop at a rate prescibed by nature, as rigid and predictable as the force that creates a crystal. Each of us may feel himself unique, with an intrinsic destiny never before seen in the univese ... and yet to God we may be millions of crystals, identical in the eyes of the Cosmic Scientist.
p. 187
And -- here is a thought not too pleasing -- as the external world becomes more animate, we may find that we -- the so-called humans -- are becoming, and may to a great extent always have been, inanimate in the sense that we are led, directed by built-in tropisms, rather than leading. So we and our elaborately evolving computers may meet each other halfway. ......

I would like, then, to ask this: What is it, in our behavior, that we can call specifically human? That is special to us as a living species? And what is it that, at least up to now, we can consign as merely machine behavior, or, by extension, insect behavior, or reflex behavior? And I would include in this the kind of pseudohuman behavior exhibited by what were once living men -- creatures who have, in ways I wish to discuss next, become instruments, means, rather than ends, and hence to me analogues of machines in the bad sense, in the sense that although biological life continues, metabolsim goes on, the soul -- for lack of a better term -- is no longer there or is at least no longer active. And such does exist in our world -- it always did, but the production of such inauthentic human activity has become a science of government and suchlike agencies now. The reduction of humans to mere use -- men made into machines, serving a purpose that although "good" in the abstract sense has, for its accomplishment, employed what I regard as the greatest evil imaginable: the placing on what was a free man who laughed and cried and made mistakes and wandered off into foolishness and play a restriction that limits him, despite what he may imagine or think, to the fulfilling of an aim outside of his own personal -- however puny -- destiny. As if, so to speak, history has made him into its instrument. History, and men skilled in -- and trained in -- the use of manipulative techniques, equipped with devices, ideologically oriented themselves, in such a way that the use of these devices strikes them as a necessary, or at least desirable, method of bringing about some ultimately desired goal.〔人類的器物化〕
p. 191
Becoming what I call, for lack of a better term, an android, means, as I said, to allow oneself to become a means, or to be pounded down, manipulated, made into a means without one's knowledge or consent -- the results are the same. But you cannot turn a human into an android if that human is going to break laws every chance he gets. Androidization requires obedience. And, most of all, predictability. It is precisely when a given person's response to any given situation can be predicted with scientific accuracy that the gates are open for the wholesale production of the android life form. What good is a flashlight if the bulb lights up only now and then when you press the button? Any machine must always work to be reliable. The android, like any other machine, must perform on cue. But our youth cannot be counted on to do this; it is unreliable. Either through laziness, short attention span, perversity, criminal tendencies -- whatever label you wish to pin on the kid to explain his unreliability is fine. Each merely means: We can tell him and tell him what to do, but when the time comes for him to perform, all the subliminal instruction, all the ideological briefing, all the tranquilizing drugs, all the psychotherapy are a waste. He just plain will not jump when the whip is cracked.
And so he is of no use to us, the calcified, entrenched powers. He will not see to it that he acts as an instrument by which we both keep and augment those powers and the rewards -- for ourselves -- that go with them.


The totalitarian society envisioned by George Orwell in 1984 should have arrived by now. The electronic gadgets are here. The government is here, ready to do what Orwell anticipated. So the power exists, the motive, and the electronic hardware. But these mean nothing, because, progressively more and more so, no one is listening. The new youth that I see is too stupid to read, too restless and bored to watch, too preoccupied to remember. The collective voice of the authorities is wasted on him; he rebels. But rebels not out of theoretical, ideological considerations, but only out of what might be called pure selfishness. Plus a careless lack of regard for the dread consequences that the authorities promise him if he fails to obey. .......
p. 200
...... the human versus the android, and how the former can become -- can, in fact, be made to become -- the latter. The calculated, widespread, and thoroughly sanctioned use of specific tranquilizing drugs such as the phenothiazines may not, like certain illegal street drugs, produce permanent brain damage, but they can -- and, God forbid, they do -- produce what I am afraid I must call "soul" damage. Let me amplify.

p. 201
In the field of abnormal psychology, the schizoid personality structure is well defined; in it there is a continual paucity of feeling. The person thinks rather than feels his way through life. And as the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung showed, this cannot be successfully maintained; one must meet most of crucial reality with a feeling response. Anyhow, there is a certain parallel between what I call the "android" personality and the schizoid. Both have a mechanical, reflex quality.


Another quality of the android mind is an inability to make exceptions. Perhaps this is the essence of it: the failure to drop a response when it fails to accomplish results, but rather to repeat it, over and over again. ......
p. 202
Let me now express another element that strikes me as an essential key revealing the authentically human. It is not only an intrinsic property of the organism, but the situation in which it finds itself. That which happens to it, that which it is confronted by, pierced by, and must deal with -- certain agonizing situations create, on the spot, a human where a moment before, there was only, as the Bible says, clay. Such a situation can be read off the face of many of the medieval Pietas: the dead Christ held in the arms of his mother. Two faces, actually: theat of a man, that of a woman. Oddly, in many of these Pietas, the face of Christ seems much older than that of his mother. It is as if an ancient man is held by a young woman; she has survived him, and yet she came before him. He has aged through his entire life cycle; she looks now perhaps as she always did, not timeless, in the classical sense, but able to transcend what has happened.

He has not survived it, this shows on his face. She has. In some way they have experienced it together, but they have come out of it differently. It was too much for him; it destroyed him. Perhaps the information to be gained here is to realize how much greater capacity a woman has for suffering; that is, not that she suffers more than a man but that she can endure where he can't. Survival of the species lies in her ability to do this, not his. Christ may die on the cross, and the human race continues, but if Mary dies, it's all over.

p. 203
I merely mean that possibly the difference between what I call the "android" mentality and the human is that the latter passed through something the former did not, or at least passed through it and responded differently -- changed, altered, what it did and hence what it was; it became. 〔人類的心性在歷經(磨難)事物後會有所轉變,生化人則否〕 I sense the android repeating over and over again some limited reflex gesture, like an insect raising its wings threateningly over and over again, or emitting a bad smell. Its one defense or response works, or it doesn't. But, caught in sudden trouble, the organism that is made more human, that becomes precisely at that moment human, wrestles deep within itself and out to itself to find one response after another as each fails. On the face of the dead Christ there is an exhaustion, almost a dehydration, as if he tried out every possibility in an effort not to die. He never gave up. And even though he did die, did fail, he died a human. This is what shows on his face.

"The endeavor to persist in its own being," Spinoza said, "is the essence of the individual thing." The chthonic deities, the Earth Mother were the original source of religious consolation -- before the solarcentric masculine deities that arrived later in history -- as well as the origin of man; man came from her and returns to her. The entire ancient world believed that just as each man came forth into individual life from a woman, he would eventually return -- and find peace at last. ...... As Spinoza pointed out so clearly, each finite thing, each individual man, eventually perishes ... and his only true consolation, as he perishes, as each society in fact perishes, is this return to the mother, the woman, the Earth.
p. 205
〔談 reality 和 future world〕
...... Reality, to me, is not so much something that you perceive, but something you make. You create it more rapidly than it creates you. Man is the reality God created out of dust; God is the reality man creates continually out of his own passions, his own determination. "Good," for example -- that is not a quality or even a force in the world or above the world, but what you do with the bits and pieces of meaningless, puzzling, disappointing, even cruel and crushing fragments all around us that seem to be pieces left over, discarded, from another world entirely that did, maybe, make sense.

The world of the future, to me, is not a place but an event. A contruct, not by one author in the form of words written to make up a novel or story that other persons sit in front of, outside of, and read -- but a construct in which there is no author and no readers but a great many characters in search of a plot. Well, there is no plot. There is only themselves
p. 206
and what they do and say to each other, what they build to sustain all of them individually and collectively, like a huge umbrella that lets in light and shuts out the darkness at the same instant. When the characters die, the novel ends. And the book falls back into dust. Out of which it came. Or back, like the dead Christ, into the arms of his warm, tender, griving, comprehending, living mother. And a new cycle begins; from her he is reborn, and the story, or another story, perhaps different, even better, starts up. A story told by the characters to one another. "A tale of sound and fury" -- signifying very much. The best we have. Our yesterday, our tomorrow, the child who came before us and the woman who will live after us and outlast, by her very existing, what he have thought and done.


Our field, science fiction, deals with that portion of the life cycle of our species that extends ahead of us. But if it is a true cycle, that future portion of it has in a sense already happened. Or, at least, we can on a basis almost mathematically precisely map out the next, missing integers
p. 207
in the sequence of which we are the past. The first integer: the Earth Mother culture. Next, the masculine solar deities, with their stern, authoritarian societies, from Sparta to Rome to Fascist Italy and Japan and Germany and the USSR. And now, perhaps, what the medieval Pietas looked forward to: In the arms of the Earth Mother, who still lives, the dead solar deity, her son, lies in a once-again silent return to the womb from which he came. I think we are entering this third and perhaps final sequence of our history, and this is a society that our field sees ahead of us that will quite different from either of the two previous world civilizations familar in the past. It is not a two-part cycle; we have not reached the conclusion of the masculine solar deity period to return merely to the primordial Earth Mother cult, however full of milk her breasts may be; what lies ahead is new. And possibly, beyond that, lies something more, unique and obscured to our gaze of this moment. I, myself, can't envision that far; the realization, the fulfillment, or the medieval Pieta as a living reality, our total environment, a living, external environment as animate as ourselves -- that is what I see and no farther. Not yet, anyhow. I would, myself, be content with that; I would be happy to lie shumbering and yet alive -- "invisible but dim," as [Henry] Vaughan [seventeenth-century English metaphysical poet] put it -- in her arms.
p. 209
...... An android might, however, be able to handle this; capable of some sort of decision-making power, it might conceivably pick one statement or the other as quote "correct." But no android -- and you will recall and realize that by this term I am summing up that which is not human -- no android would think to do what a bright-eyed little girl I know did, something a little bizarre, certainly ethically questionable in several ways, at least in any traditional sense, but to my truly human in that it shows, to me, a spirit of merry defiance, of spirited, although not spiritual, bravery and uniqueness.〔人與生化人最明顯的差異〕

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