Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 177.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 06:50:26 -0700
From: lhomich <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: 16.172 embodiment
With my deepest apologies to Dr. Moravec, I offer:
The Ballad of Hans Moravec
or, Down(loaded) and Out on the World Wide Web
Hans Moravec worked out of MIT,
One day he'd an idea which filled him with glee:
"I am what I think, so I'll download my mind
On to a computer and leave body behind."
He enlisted his students' impressive mind power
And they all worked away in their ivory tower;
In a trice they devised a way to configure
Him digitally, which they tested with rigor.
They downloaded his mind into a machine
Each thought and idea, virtuous or obscene.
He glowed and stretched and transistored about;
Then cried with pleasure: "At last, I'm out!"
He left his body to gather the dust
As he exclaimed "I've no need of crust
or meat or drink to keep me alive,
Cyberspace is the place in which I will thrive!"
As Moravec multiplied and continued to grow
His friends all noticed their computers ran slow.
"He's using up all our processing power.
What used to take seconds now takes an hour!"
They tried to post warnings but alas they knew
He'd monopolized all of their CPU
He established himself on the hard drive,
"At last," he said, "I'm really alive!"
And soon he decided himself to copy
Since he was now too big to fit on a floppy;
His program-self made clone after clone,
He knew he'd never again be alone.
His copies attached to outgoing mail
To every address he arrived without fail
He established himself on every computer
A freewheeling cybernetic electronic freebooter.
He went searching for larger and faster machines
"I'll be more myself than I've ever been!"
He gloated, and grew, and soon he'd unfurled
His self on computers all over the world.
He was all places at once, and his omnipresence
Erected itself in a glowing tumesence.
He'd be wherever one happened to look
Unstoppable even by ol' Rodney Brooks.
Yet all was not well in Cyberland
Things, you might say, had got out of hand
If there was hand to be had (which there wasn't)
Since having a hand is now something Hans doesn't.
Each version of self on all those machines
Had their own ideas of just what it means
To be Doctor Moravec, and not all of them meshed
Out there in the land of identity de-fleshed.
Trouble was astir: "Oh, how can this be?"
Lamented the doctor, "since you're all me?
Each of you is I, whether in Paris or Guelph:
Oh how to maintain a coherent self?"
He pleaded for unity: "Why can't you, er, I see?
That really, I'm, er, you're all of me!"
But each of his selves declared "I'm the true one,
And as for the others, they must be undone."
The doc was in peril. He cried "Oh lawdy,"
"Now how I wish I kept my old body!"
As the selves of the doctor declared total war
He finally knew he had gone too far.
But what now has happened to our poor man?
He still has no body as per his original plan.
But his selves have deleted each other in a flick
And now he's now become Hans Lessavec.
University of Alberta
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