2.1224 Sci-fi and cyber-worries (78)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 27 Mar 90 20:32:12 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1224. Tuesday, 27 Mar 1990.

(1) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 06:20 CST (13 lines)
From: Robin Smith <RSMITH@KSUVM>
Subject: Gort and the Sovereign

(2) Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 17:29:00 EST (11 lines)
From: Robert Kirsner (213) 825-3955 <IDT1RSK@OAC.UCLA.EDU> (Department o
Subject: She's right!

(3) Date: 27 March 1990 (29 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Cyperhorrors

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 06:20 CST
From: Robin Smith <RSMITH@KSUVM>
Subject: Gort and the Sovereign

Since we've decided to talk about 'The Day the Earth Stood Still,' I'll
offer my two cents' worth. For years, I have used the film (at least,
its plot) as an illustration, for undergraduates, of the nature of
Hobbes's theory of the state. Gort and his ilk play the role of the
Sovereign: the compact defining the society is 'obey the rules or be
incinerated.' Like Hobbes's Sovereign, Gort isn't a party to the
contract, but simply its enforcer. And by the way, Willard, what she
actually had to say to Gort was 'Klatu Barada Nikto' (one might differ
about orthography here, I suppose).
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------20----
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 90 17:29:00 EST
From: Robert Kirsner (213) 825-3955 <IDT1RSK@OAC.UCLA.EDU> (Department of
Subject: She's right!

Colleague Higley is absolute correct in chiding me for having forgotten
BLADERUNNER. (I feel embarassed because I recommend the novel as a parable
of the University.) But even this expansion still leaves
the fraction of "genuine" science fiction films relatively
small: The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001, Bladerunner.
I'm still not sure what to do with It Came From Outer Space (screenplay
by Ray Bradbury).
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 27 March 1990
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Cyperhorrors

Much as I also like to talk about my favourite movies, I'm lamenting the
fact that my badly remembered quotation from The Day the Earth Stood
Still was what set off discussion rather than my question about
semi-autonomous cyber-slaves who turn out to be cyber-tyrants. Getting
paranoid about computers is easy enough, since anything that much like
us has to be pretty scary, and the heavy approval for politically
coloured academic paranoia makes it a growth industry, to be sure.

My interest in all this originates from a fascination with the story of
Daedalus, the prototypical gadgeteer, and the strong element of
catoptric imagination in that myth. Now, we find ourselves beset by our
own echoing chatter (a.k.a. "information overload"), so we decide to
build a perfect servant who will take an exact description of what we
want to receive (i.e. our self-definition) and tirelessly, noiselessly
filter the input from our electronic organs of perception. Let me ask
again: (a) am I coming even close to what's afoot in the development of
information processing systems? (b) do these developments interest
anyone else? and (c) has anyone got a better idea of how to solve the
problem? indeed, does anyone understand what the real problem is?

Yours, Willard McCarty