Skepticism

Moved By Sci-Fi

By Tkingdoll (aka Teek) 

 

Yay! The Mind-Control Chip is Here! 

I’ve been waiting for this for years, having only just reconciled myself to the fact that I will probably not see meal-in-a-pill and personal jetpacks in my lifetime. Damn you, vintage B movies, damn you to hell! At least I can wear a jumpsuit any time I like. Fashionable, and practical too (until you need to pee). Mmm sensual velour. 

I love it when Sci-fi becomes reality. Imagine being able to turn on your TV just by thinking about it. That’s even better than the kid in X-Men 2 who changes channel by blinking. But wait! What about the potential impact on evil villainous masterminds, hell bent on controlling the world with their army of mind-controlled zombie people? Or that ship in Enterprise controlled from the Romulan HQ by an Aenar with a helmet, that was bad, right? This mind-control chip has all sorts of scary applications if it falls into the hands of the Martians, or the Russians perhaps. 

This reminds me of a book I used to love as a kid, called A Rag, A Bone, and a Hank of Hair, by Nicholas Fisk. I loved it because it scared me, and because it was one of the first books I ever read that had a proper twist that I didn’t see coming. The book is sadly out of print, so I shall sketch the plot for you here, although it’s from memory so apologies to the author if I get any of it wrong.

The story is told from the perspective of a young boy in a future utopia. He is asked to take part in an experiment in which a team of scientists have created a set of androids. The androids are kept in a Truman Show-esque fake environment, the kitchen of a London townhouse during the Blitz. Fake memories have been implanted into the androids, who respond to a series of manufactured events, like bombings and rationing. The boy has to interact with them, pretending he is part of the family, and report back on his feelings. At dusk he says a code word and the androids go to sleep, whereupon he goes home and gets on with his regular life of parents, schoolwork and friends.

I seem to recall the rationale behind the experiment was to see how the artificial minds responded to the stress of the war scenario and how they interacted and bonded with each other.

Now, I can’t quite recall why, but for some reason the scientists are forced to abandon the experiment and they do this by blowing up the fake room and the androids with it.

And the twist? Ah, but that wouldn’t be fair now, would it? You’ll just have to wait until the mind-control chip is commercially available and remote control me to tell you ;o) 

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20 Comments

  1. To some degree, we are participating in science fiction as reality right now. The internet is remeniscent of the old staple of consulting "the computer" to find out informaiton in daily life and to communicate with others.

    One thing I want that I will likely eventually get is the wrist phone. People are already using their cell phones to tell time intead of wearing watches, so it is a logical progression.

  2. Voice activation is good for some things and bad for others. A good typist can type faster than he/she can talk. Of course, most computer users are not trained in typing. This includes me. (See typo in previous comment.)

    Exarch is right about voice recognition being primarily used for dictation. There are a lot of challenges involved in making computers truly voice-activated, and the voice recognition software is only a small part. Another is the voice interface. How do you communicate by voice exactly what you want the computer to do in a concise fashion? It's not as easy as you might think, and there is a lot more thinking to do before someone designs a good interface.

    Even when that happens, it won't be like Star Trek where you just give the computer simple sentence commands and it figures out exactly what you want. There is just so much "soft" communication between humans, and computers as we know them today could not begin to process these subtleties. Computers will need much clearer language.

    However, Teek, I'm pretty sure you could manage "Computer on!" now…if not much else. ;)

  3. Wow, better wear earplugs when using that thing I suppose.

    As for life imitating sci-fi, what about cell phones and everything inbetween up to a laptop? There’s plenty of sci-fi stuff that looks like it’s not going to take that much longer before it becomes a reality.

  4. I read that flexible portable thin screens for downloading newspapers are about to go in to production. You know what would be great? To review old future-technology articles or TV programmes from the 60s and 70s and see how accurate their predictions were. In the UK we had a great programme called Tomorrow’s World – I remember watching one week as a kid when they unveiled a new exciting technology that would soon be commercially available – the compact disc!

  5. Voice recognition software is getting pretty good though. Although it’s mainly used for dictating long texts, not for operating the computer itself as far as I’m aware …

  6. I think I'd like the holodeck: then I'd be able to create super-sexy skepchicks like (for example) Ms January and Ms October with which I would have intense and wonderful…

    …conversations and debates. It'd be great.

  7. I have to sheepishly admit to leaving you out because I didn't know which month you were! As I was typing it I was honestly thinking "I'd like to include bug_girl too, but… err… she was…" and then I got distracted by something shiny and made the post

  8. Sure Teek, but what's TGN? Or do they call it "The Generation Next" in the UK? Those crazy Brits (or Welsh, or Scots, or…).

    I was actually considering chiding you about your geekiness because of that but was afraid that since I've already offended your inclinations to be holo-imaged by excluding bug_girl, a further questioning of your… err… 'skillz' would just set that back farther.

  9. OOPS! Typing in haste. Blush.

    I meant TNG of course, although The Generation Next could have been my attempt at Yoda-speak.

    It's all about the geek.

     

    PS Ha ha, I edited my original typo. Now YOU look like the crazy one :D

  10. Also, in the interests of contribuing something semi-intellectual to the thread rather than just drooling:

    I'd say the reason humans tend to turn any given technology they can toward either sex or violence is that the two concepts are fairly closely related, and are the subjects we tend to put the most emphasis on socially.

    My personal take on why that would be the case is that we simply aren't as divorced from our basic primal instincts as most people would like to think. At some level our essential urges are still back in the jungle trying to outbreed our neighbors and flinging poop at trespassers. We just use more advanced and far more lethal feces now.

    Not a pretty image of course, but one I think bears looking at. If we're going to overcome our limitations they need to be acknowledged first. (this is all just my opinion based on observation, I'm certainly not an expert)

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