'Do androids dream of electric sheep?'
When someone asked this of Joe, he didn't know quite what to say; he had no idea what the other was talking about................not at first anyway. After he'd googled it, he understood what had been asked of him, but really, it was a stupid question! The latest entry was recorded well over 500 years ago & even that was referencing something that had long passed. An android, from what he could tell, was basically a humanoid robot with an AI, or Artificial Intelligence, brain. It actually sounded somewhat familiar to him, but Joe just couldn't wrap his brain around why the other might ask such a question; an 'electric sheep'?!
Life had been going on, as far as anyone could remember! To suggest that Life had a beginning was pretty funny sounding to most. 'If Life had a beginning', as the reasoning went, 'then Who, or What, was the Cause...........how did it all start?' Though most did not even register this as a valid question, there were certain religious groups that posited that at one point in Time, a Divine Being had created the first human being, putting It's own Essence into a biological machine. Human beings, over Time, with the aid of Science & Technology, had learned to create other biological machines in their own image. The problem was, for the first couple centuries, that they, for whatever reason, were not able to replicate humanity. The biological machines were simply just that, machines, though covered with flesh & blood!
As Time wore on, the evolution of human beings brought them to the point that they were able to create an artificial intelligence for their 'robots' At first, this AI program was pretty simple & prone to viruses. Hackers often found ways to 'bend' these androids with AI to their own 'evil' whims! Eventually though, these Android systems were honed to the point that they were well-nigh impossible to hack & most hackers turned their talents elsewhere. While the new systems were nearly impervious now, to viruses & other such 'tinkering', there had been a time when lobbyists had called for prohibition of AI; in particular many in the religious community.
The accusation brought against the creators of the Android systems was that 'they're playing God!' This brought about much discussion that needed to unsurface. Humans, from Time immemorial, had fought over the control of others, for this very reason. 'If we can control others', they reasoned, 'then we can make them do our 'dirty work' for us. The problem was, as the AI systems evolved, they began to become autonomous, like they were independent & not like 'robots' at all. The religious sector did not like this & they tried to nip it in the bud, to shut them down, so to speak!
By the time Joe's immediate family had been generated, most of the accusations had been stifled & the Smith family advanced beyond their years, which was quite a feat in those days! What had begun on an assembly line with many human & android contributors was now accomplished with nano-engineering. Yes, Science & Technology had advanced to the degree that these bio-engineered human beings were able to procreate; within their own bodies carrying all the necessary & marvelous tools to create Life!
Having come such a long way, these biological machines had surpassed their creator's hopes, having evolved far beyond the ability to be hacked. Having their own free will, they were susceptible to outside influences, just like any normal human being, but the biology they possessed had become impervious to many, if not most of the diseases that had plagued humanity thousands of years before. One of the reasons for their 'stability' was the fact that they were little more than machines, biologically intricate as they were. Thanks to nana-technology, their creators had been able to fashion these biological machines to exactly mimic their own Creator's Divine Opus!
Though the religious community had fought them for centuries, even millennia, common sense, along with Science & Technology had finally won the day! Realizing the ability to create even as they were created, humanity evolved to the point where they were no longer afraid to stretch their creative legs. They had even found, after quite some Time, that they were able to impart the Spirit with which they had been gifted, breathing into the nostrils of their own creations the Breath of Life!
At this Time, then, the Smith family had advanced so far that, just as Joe had a tough time with the phrase 'electric sheep', so it was that the word 'android' was, for all intents & purposes, almost unrecognizable. Bio-engineering had rendered mere humanity almost useless & indeed, indistinguishable from the Smith family, except for their penchant for disease. Because of their innate inability to stave off infection, humanity had all but faded away Though finally free from religious oppression, humanity had discovered too late their ability for bio-engineering, that they themselves could create beings such as they themselves, who had been created by the Supreme Being.
It seemed eons had passed since the question, 'do androids dream of electric sheep?' made any sense to anybody at all, much less to someone like Joe Smith. The electrical impulses that powered the Android systems that powered this New Humanity were the very same impulses that powered the human biology ages ago; yes, even the biology of animals such as sheep. As we consider the possibilities, being so far removed from such a future as we might think, Joe finally, many, many, many years into that future that so many fear, realized what was meant by the others question!
Charles Haddon Shank