Welcome to the year 2012. It is a bit different then what you would think. Thousands of species have gone extinct. Buildings are destroyed and the ones that are livable are not inhabited - besides maybe a room or two. So, what the heck happened here on our beloved planet earth? Well, there was a war, a nuclear war. World War Termination to be exact. It left the world in ruin. Instead of forecasting rain or snow, the few survivors forecast the radioactive dust. Now, I haven’t gone into to many details, but from the picture I have set you can see that earth is a pretty ugly place.
You may think that the earth as described in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, as a wretched place to live on, but at least there is an earth to live on. In Lyotard’s essay, Can Thought Go On Without a Body, Lyotard describes what life or even thought would be like after our sun novas. When our sun is in its dying stages it will become so large that the sun will turn into a red giant and expand past the earth’s orbit. It will fry mars and when it novas, the explosion will destroy the entire solar system and have horrific effects for light years. There will be no such thing as human beings let alone remnants of human thought.
However ugly earth is after WWT, there are still humans walking the surface, we still have human thought. These humans are the survivors from WWT but they aren’t the special ones-the ones that got shipped to Mars. The governments of the world shipped the special people, those with the highest IQs, to Mars to further on the species and keep thought alive. The governments also allowed private companies such as the Rosen Association to develop androids. Their latest model of androids, Nexus-6, are so well advanced that it is impossible to distinguish them from actual humans with the naked eye. You would need a special device called the Voigt-Kampff scale to administer a test with. The scale would measure a person’s or android’s reactions to certain questions by observing minute details of the face. The only thing the Nexus-6 cannot do is react with empathy.
Since the end of humans and human thought is on its way, Lyotard says we need to stop asking ourselves the answerless questions and focus on ways in which we can ensure human thought continues once the end of the solar system arrives. He states,
“…theoretically the solution is very simple: manufacture hardware capable of ‘nurturing’ software at least as complex (or replex) as the present day human brain, but in non terrestrial conditions. (Lyotard 14) “ The androids in Dick’s narrative are almost there. They have the brain capacity of a human. Take for example when Rachel Rosen tricked Rick Deckard at the Rosen Association or when Kadalyi-Polokov almost killed Deckard on the roof when he was pretending to be a Russian police officer sent to help Deckard with retiring the androids.
The software to survive the nova is available in Dick’s narrative. I just think there needs to be some development in hardware. When Deckard shot Polokov in the head, the android went nuts. It was twitching and sparking everywhere, and that’s just after coming in contact with a measly bullet. To survive the nova, the humans need to create a hardware system that will survive the most powerful explosion and forces of energy anything will ever experience (next to a super giant explosion and being ripped apart by the gravitational differences entering a black hole). Or, humankind will have to create a ship that will travel fast enough to escape the wretched explosion or be outside the area that will be effected by the explosion before the explosion gets there. They would have to do this because “Thought without a body is the prerequisite for thinking of the death of all bodies, solar or terrestrial, and of the death of thoughts that are inseparable from those bodies (14).” So basically, if the hardware for the software gets destroyed then the software will be gone because there would be nothing to run the software. Take for example your present day (2008, not 2021) laptop that you are reading this blog on. The hardware would consist of your motherboard, the computer chips, the circuitry and the screen amongst other things, while the software is the Microsoft Office 2008 I am typing on right now, the Mozilla Firefox you are using to read this essay, and the itunes you are using to listen to your music as you read this essay. Think about this. Without the hardware, the software wouldn’t exist. They would be ideas in your head-figments of your imagination. So if the nova destroyed all of the hardware that was capable of continuing human thought, human thought would be like the software without the computer.
I have always been one of those people that looked up at the sky and wondered. I wondered what it would be like up there, living amongst the stars. That was when I was a young buck. Now, with three plus years of higher education under my belt, focusing primarily in the natural sciences, I often wonder and think a lot more. I look up at the stars and understand the processes that make us what we are today. I understand the fusion of the stars, the gravity, the light and how everything interacts. But this is all free spirit thinking-not programmed. I don’t think the human race can create software or hardware that comes close to that of a human brain, no matter what Bill Joy says in his article Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us. But then again, I think of what Lyotard said of humans, “You know – technology wasn’t invented by us humans. Rather the other way around (12).” It is this statement that gives me all the confidence in the world of the human race. Since we are technology and we are creating technology, who is to say that we cannot recreate human beings from scratch? The evolution of technology could be as simple as a positive feedback loop.