Are You an Android?

Android? Human? You? Click image to download.

The problem with working out if you are an android, as Saint Philip of Dick observed, is that one of the main distinguishing features of a living human over a machine, is the capacity for egoless empathy; which is impossible for many modern humans, who have been serially stripped of sensitivity, to discern. A similar problem occurs in the cognitive sciences — where unconscious scientists are employed to make pronouncements on the capacity of machines to be genuinely intelligent — and in the development of virtual reality — where young men and women, isolated entirely from direct contact with an unmediated natural environment, compare the digital world of the screen with the equally digital world of the city, and then declare the latest graphics to be ‘more realistic’.

The virtual mind, having only its own virtual consciousness to check experience against, has no way of knowing if what is happening is real. If android man had some way of knowing for sure he was living in a simulated world of androids, he would lose the plot. All he can know— and, in the virtual reality of a simulated mind, know with painful yet reassuring immediacy — is; ‘that does not make sense’, or ‘that is a non-standard thought’. ‘Reject!’

And it is precisely this painful knowledge which is the surest definable way to tell if you or anyone else really is carrying synthetic components. When the simulated mind encounters states which cannot be rationally grasped, digitally isolated, relatively understood or stored in the memory banks, it panics. First it feels disinterest, then it feels dismissive (usually accompanied by ridicule), then it feels anxious, then it feels angry and finally it feels the reckless, violent insanity of mind before the mindless. If you experience such emotions when confronted with death, collapse, the awesome void of physical love, complete lack of addictive stimulation, loneliness, silence, the innocence of the wilderness, the unscripted stage or the simple, fair, reasonable truth of who you are (as, for example, presented to you by a perceptive critic or lover), then there’s android in you.

Get it out!