…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 moral island is not a man.
—Philip K. Dick, “Man, Android and Machine”
The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
—Philip K. Dick
It is amazing that when someone else spouts the nonsense you yourself believe you can readily perceive it as nonsense.
—PHILIP K. DICK, Valis
This is a mournful discovery:
(1) those who agree with you are insane
(2) those who do not agree with you are in power.
—PHILIP K. DICK, Valis
If you or I ever really accepted the moral responsibility for what we’ve done in our lifetime—we’d drop dead or go mad. Living creatures weren’t made to understand what they do.
—PHILIP K. DICK, Now Wait For Last Year
The appropriate response to reality is to go insane.
—PHILIP K. DICK
Are you aware that “they” once built an android of Philip K. Dick?
This mechanoid simulacrum was no mere mannequin, robot, or cheap A.I. computer program powering a ventriloquist’s dummy, but a seemingly sentient creature whose camera eyes focused on your own as you talked. An android so advanced that its eyes would track you if you got up and moved about the room; that listened attentively to your speech, pondered, and then responded in kind. Whose face could display every shade of emotion known to man, and who in turn could read the emotion on your own face.
The android had the corpus of P.K.D.’s works and interviews programmed into its advanced artificial intelligence in order to draw upon this vast repository of Phil Dickian thought to answer questions put to it in near real time. Yet the one question its makers dreaded interviewers asking it above all others was, “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” Because if confronted with this particular dystopian sci-fi interrogative Phil would begin to talk . . . and elaborate . . . and baroquely ornament its answer with references drawn from the entire corpus of human knowledge and divers academic/esoteric disciplines (psychology, sociology, philosophy, religion, history, engineering, physics, astronomy, myth, magic and mysticism, et. al.) until infinity—or its makers pulled the plug.
And I do mean infinity. When programmers examined the queued-up data logs compiled from Phil’s prepared response to this question they found themselves marveling with equal parts rueful humor and bemused horror at the discovery that the android was prepared to discourse on this particular subject . . . forever. Literally—forever: until the end of time. The only way they could get faux-P.K.D. to stop talking about androids dreaming of electric sheep was to wipe its memory clean and start over with a different question.
Came the day one of the principals involved in chaperoning the android to a new convention fell asleep on a plane. Upon arrival at the airport this man woke up, grabbed his personal effects, and left the aircraft in a groggy state only to belatedly realize that he’d left the android’s head behind.
It was never seen again.
Run, Dick, run.