within the last decade, we have seen a trend not anticipated by our earnest psychologists -- or by anyone else -- which dwarfs that issue: our environment, and I mean our manmade world of machines, artificial constructs, computers, electronic systems, interlinking homeostatic components -- all this is in fact beginning more and more to possess what the earnest psychologists fear the primitive sees in his environment: animation. In a very real sense our environment is becoming alive, or at least quasi-alive, and in ways specifically and fundamentally analogous to ourselves.
I have, in some of my stories and novels, written about androids ... – artificial constructs masquerading as humans. Usually with a sinister purpose in mind. I suppose I took it for granted that if such a construct, a robot for example, had a benign or anyhow decent purpose in mind, it would not need to so disguise itself. Now, to me, that theme seems obsolete. The constructs do not mimic humans; they are, in many deep ways, actually human already. They are not trying to fool us, for a purpose of any sort; they merely follow lines we follow, in order that they, too, may overcome such common problems as the breakdown of vital parts, loss of power source, attack by such foes as storms, short circuits..
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.
the dying bird of authentic humanness.
But there are kids now who cannot be unplugged because no electric cord links them to any external power source. Their hearts beat with an interior, private meaning. Their energy doesn't come from a pacemaker; it comes from a stubborn, almost absurdly perverse, refusal to be "shucked," that is, to be taken in by the slogans, the ideology -- in fact by any and all ideology itself, of whatever sort -- that would reduce them to instruments of abstract causes, however "good."
Even the most base schemes of human beings are preferable to the most exalted tropisms of machines
Becoming...an android [is] 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...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.
But I have never had too high a regard for what is generally called "reality." Reality, to me, is not so much something that you perceive, but something you make... 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.
"I mean, after all; you have to consider we're only made out of dust. That's admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn't forget that. But even considering, I mean it's a sort of bad beginning, we're not doing too bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we're faced with we can make it. You get me?"
Within the universe there exist fierce cold things, which I have given the name “machines” to. Their behavior frightens me, especially if it imitates human behavior so well that I get the uncomfortable sense that these things are trying to pass themselves off as humans but are not. I call them “androids,” which is my own way of using that word. By “android” I do not mean a sincere attempt to create in the laboratory a human being.... I mean a thing somehow generated to deceive us in a cruel way, to cause us to think it to be one of ourselves. .... But their handshake is the grip of death, and their smile has the coldness of the grave.
they then fall within the clinical entity “schizoid,” which means lacking proper feeling. I am sure we mean the same thing here, with the emphasis on the word “thing.” A human being without the proper empathy or feeling is the same as an android built so as to lack it, either by design or mistake. We mean, basically, someone who does not care about the fate which his fellow living creatures fall victim to; he stands detached, a spectator, acting out by his indifference John Donne’s theorem that “No man is an island,” but giving that theorem a twist: that which is a mental and a moral island is not a man.
The greatest change growing across our world these days is probably the momentum of the living toward reification, and at the same time a reciprocal entry into animation by the mechanical.
“Man” or “human being” are terms which we must understand correctly and apply, but they apply not to origin or to any ontology but to a way of being in the world; if a mechanical construct halts in its customary operation to lend you assistance, then you will posit to it, gratefully, a humanity which no analysis of its transistors and relay-systems can elucidate
Now I do not intend to abandon my dichotomy between what I call “human” and what I call “android,” the latter being a cruel and cheap mockery of the former for base ends. But I had been going on surface appearances; to distinguish the categories more cunning is required.
We are creatures in a game with our affinities and aversions predetermined for us — not by blind chance but by patient, foresighted engramming systems which we dimly see. Were we to see them clearly, we would abolish the game. Evidently that would not serve anyone’s interests. We must trust these tropisms, and anyhow we have no choice — not until the tropisms lift.
I think, we are like the characters in my novel UBIK; we are in a state of half-life. We are neither dead nor alive, but preserved in cold storage, waiting to be thawed out. Expressed in the perhaps startingly familiar terms of the procession of the seasons, this is winter of which I speak; it is winter for our race, and it is winter in UBIK for those in half-life. Ice and snow cover them; ice and snow cover our world in layers of accretions, which we call dokos or Maya
We humans, the warm-faced and tender, with thoughtful eyes — we are perhaps the true machines. And those objective constructs, the natural objects around us and especially the electronic hardware we build, the transmitters and microwave relay stations, the satellites, they may be cloaks for authentic living reality inasmuch as they may participate more fully and in a way obscured to us in the ultimate Mind. Perhaps we see not only a deforming veil, but backwards. Perhaps the closest approximation to truth would be to say: “Everything is equally alive, equally free, equally sentient, because everything is not alive or half-alive or dead, but rather lived through.
"The principle of emergence, as when nonliving matter becomes living. As if information (thought concepts) when pushed to their limit become metamorphosed into something alive.
“A vast noetic factor lived in me; I both saw and comprehended in a single mentational act, although it's taken me months to label what I encountered (e.g., the Logos, God as Immanent Mind within the structural framework of reality surrounding me). I think what was the most thrilling of all, above and beyond everything else which was new to me, was visually to observe the constant, steady, unfailing signaling systems by which all living organisms are disinhibited; which is to say, their engrammed and then blocked instinctive patterns imprinted on them at the beginning are periodically released at the correct moment, for the appropriate occasion … in this fashion chaos becomes cosmos, and harmony and stability and regulated interaction between all parts of the structure are perpetually achieved”
“I not only say (in VALIS) that the universe is information but that this information is a narrative, what the narrative is (tells), why, what effect it has on the mind and hence on us....I have read the writing—or heard it read—that causes our universe to be. I know what the narrative says. And why. I.e., the purpose of the universe (which is information, a narrative).”