Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: April 16, 2021, 7:28 a.m. Humanist 34.334 - the image of the computer in science fiction

				                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 334.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                   		Hosted by DH-Cologne
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                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org


    [1]    From: Emidio Battipaglia 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction? (48)

    [2]    From: Henry Schaffer 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction? (6)

    [3]    From: David Hoover 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction? (26)

    [4]    From: Espen S. Ore 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction? (53)


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-04-16 00:19:58+00:00
        From: Emidio Battipaglia 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction?

I'd think of the fiction written by Gibson, like Burning Chrome and Neuromancer.
Asimov depicted 'the machines' in a short story 'the evitable conflict', so did
Philip K. Dick with the sentient computers Vulcan 2 and 3 in the novel 'vulcan'
s hammer'.

Then i would look into Kubrick's A Space Odissey and the more recent Wachowskis'
Matrix.

You can also look at this list on Wikipedia:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_computers

Regards,

⁣Emidio Battipaglia

www.emidiobattipaglia.com
hello@emidiobattipaglia.com​

On 15 Apr 2021, 07:58, at 07:58, Humanist  wrote:
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 332.
>        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                               Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                       www.dhhumanist.org
>                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>
>
>
>
>        Date: 2021-04-14 12:21:00+00:00
>        From: Willard McCarty 
>        Subject: the image of the computer in science fiction
>
>I'd be grateful for recommendations of studies that focus on the image
>of the computer in science fiction genres -- novels, short stories,
>comics, film -- from 1945 into the 1990s, both utopian and dystopian. I
>want to know what people of all sorts thought about the machine.
>Literary and artistic quality do not matter for my purposes.
>
>Many thanks.
>
>Yours,
>WM
>--
>Willard McCarty,
>Professor emeritus, King's College London;
>Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist
>www.mccarty.org.uk


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-04-15 12:30:36+00:00
        From: Henry Schaffer 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction?

Fascinating area - and as a long time science fiction fan I'm wondering
what you include in the "computer" category. Arthur C. Clarke's HAL was
clearly a "computer", but what about Isaac Asimov's Daneel Olivaw? I'd
include him as a computer, would you?

--henry schaffer

--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-04-15 11:50:46+00:00
        From: David Hoover 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction?

Dear Willard,
Two particularly interesting examples, to my mind, are Asimov's *I, Robot,* a
book compiled from stories from the 1940's, and E. M. Forster's 1909
novela, "The Machine Stops." The latter obviously violates your parameters,
but the machine is clearly some kind of imagined computer with video
conferencing and instant messaging. Asimov's stories are particularly
interesting for how they lie outside what became the tradition of the
"robotic" robot without empathy. From the beginning, Asimov imagines his
robots (and later the "brains") as having emotions.  The first story has a
robot as a caretaker for a young girl, in a later story, a computer suffers
from religious mania, another is a mind-reading robot that tells people
lies they want to believe, another is an android so perfect he is never
detected, becomes a benevolent world leader, but euthanizes himself so as
not to cause humans trouble. The brains act in the interest of mankind,
even if that requires some harm to individual humans.
Enjoy,
David
--
            David L. Hoover, Professor of English, NYU
         212-998-8832       244 Greene Street, Room 409
               http://wp.nyu.edu/davidlhoover

"They had the Nos. of the rain bow and the Power of the air all
workit out with counting which is how they got boats in the air
and picters on the wind. Counting clevverness is what it wer."
-- Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker

--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-04-15 09:28:20+00:00
        From: Espen S. Ore 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.332: the image of the computer in science fiction?

Greetings Willard,


Den 15.04.2021 07:59, skrev Humanist:
> I'd be grateful for recommendations of studies that focus on the image
> of the computer in science fiction genres -- novels, short stories,
> comics, film -- from 1945 into the 1990s, both utopian and dystopian. I
> want to know what people of all sorts thought about the machine.
> Literary and artistic quality do not matter for my purposes.
>
> Many thanks.
>
> Yours,
> WM
>

This may be outside the time scope, but the Norwegian author Øvre
Richter Frich wrote a series of books (starting in 1911) with a mixture
of science fiction and strong-man-heroes. In book 17, The curse of
Jacques Delma (Jacques Delmas Forbandelse) from 1926 describes a
mecanical archive used for extortion as something between Babbage's
Analytical Engine and Bush' Memex. Here is from the first introduction
to the device:

"Ja — han begyndte like-
frem at spille paa tangenter, som klapret villig under
hans øvede fingrer. Men musikken var det daarlig
bevendt med. Den mindet mest om de dumpe smeld
fra en Linotype, som atter har hentet sine musikalske
lyd fra klapperslangen."
(p. 48 in the 1926 edition)

and then it delivers a result (printed, similar to what Babbage suggested):

"Dubonnet og hans fire sønner saa interessert paa
det eiendommelige spil. Og ti gule øine skinnet an-
dagtsfulde, mens Anderson klapret paa tangenterne.
Saa la den underlige organist hænderne overkors og
ventet. En svak surren tydet paa, at der arbeidedes
intenst i kartotekets indre. Et halvt minut forløp. Saa
krøp der en tynd messingplate ut fra en av siderne.
Det var som en slanges tunge.
Paa platen laa der et tæt beskrevet kort."
(p. 51 in the 1926 edition)

Given the nature of this series, the archive also contains a bomb for
self destruction, so at the end it goes out with a bang.

Espen

--
Espen S. Ore
Holmestrand, Norway


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