So I recently, drudgingly started a new book called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” By Philip K. Dick. Just by looking at the name of the book, it was understood that it was going to be anything but mundane. But knowing how books sometimes unpleasantly surprise me, I went ahead and did the research about the book. Ola Wikipedia! There (I dont ever commit the blasphemous act of reading the plot, I swear!) I glanced through the intro to see what it was about and there I learnt that this book was the inspiration for Blade Runner (the movie, yes, that totally mind-boggling cult movie that I totally didnt get!). So I dived into it. Actually it was more of a testing-the-waters-of-the-book but I decided to read it. And once I make that decision, there is no going back for me.
I started the book a couple of months ago.I hate putting a book down to start another one (I am thoroughly ashamed of what comes next). Suffice to say, though, thats what I did. The first few pages, I didnt want to be immersed in the book, so I wasn’t, so I didn’t absorb anything, so I found it boring! Self-fulfilling prophecy much? Yes I think so. I abandoned it and went ahead and read Gone Girl, In the Darkness, a couple of Deadpool volumes, some The Walking Dead issues, Big Hero 6 issues etc etc etc.
After I was done with alllllll these books, I decided to get back to “Do Androids…” which was just sitting in my Goodreads, in my currently reading list, ruining my 2014 book-reading challenge. So I decided to just get done with it. I got through 35% of it by reading a page everyday..forgetting the previously read page the next day, attempting to remember it the next day before I started the next page. After I got through 35% I realized I wasn’t paying the kind of attention this book deserved, so I went back to the first page and started it again, deciding to give it the respect and concentration it deserved.
And it didn’t disappoint. It went all the way and blew my mind. It made me think. And any book that can make you THINK, deserves respect and appreciation. That is what this book did for me. It made me question the difference with the run-of-the-mill personal computer and a human being. We were all machines running on electricity. Our mind is a programable circuit. A much better and sophisticated version of a computer, but a machine none the less. We were all born with clean slates. Clean motherboards, memories, clean everything. We were systems capable of being programmed by our environment, only we were also capable of self-correcting. What made us different from androids?
Chemicals? Being organic made us different? The chemical reactions in our body make us different? They help in changing our programming. Seratonin levels in our brains affect have an on one emotion, dopamine affects another. It affects how we translate information coming in through our input devices (or sensory organs, however you choose to see it).
Is it true you think? Are we just fancier androids with more features and gimmicks installed? Just some androids with more advanced heavy-weighted hardware capable of installing a better OS? If we look at it objectively, the answer could be yes?
Reminds me of the Matrix, which of course addressed an entirely different topic but it used the same method. We were just glorified AAA batteries. Or computers.
Would some super-advanced race of aliens land on earth, take one look at us human machines running around maintaining street lights, working desk jobs, and assume there was “someone else” whose orders all of us human machines followed? Like we would think if we entered a roomful of computers working and assume there had to be a human being pushing all those buttons and giving all those orders? Who is the human behind us being the machine?
Do you get my drift?
Anyways that was one of many thoughts that was going through my mind when I was reading that book. The book was about how humans were different from machines because they had “empathy” and that is how these androids-posing-as-humans were detected. They were incapable of feeling anything for anyone else but themselves. But is that all that separates us from the androids? What about the concept of a soul? Empathy was an emotion. It was controlled by the hormones. By the endocrine system of the body, which was based on chemicals and not electricity entirely. So did our chemical makeup separate us from the androids? I dont know. I want answers.