"On Automata And Thought", Lecture Notes of the Grand Philosopher, 61.1.724 Document in Creus | World Anvil
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"On Automata And Thought", Lecture Notes of the Grand Philosopher, 61.1.724

"Through the ingenuity of modern Power technology, advanced machines have entered society." Actatus tapped the contraption in front of him on the stage. "Though printing presses are nothing new, it is obvious when something is printed as opposed to handwritten. Now, observe."   The Grand Philosopher buckled his right arm into the machine and sat, his hand holding a quill above a lectern. His arm was harnessed into a complex interweave of levers, with four large clay discs prominent inside the machinery. He kicked a lever with a spare foot, and the discs began to slowly rotate as he wrote a sentence on the paper, needles etching a pattern on the discs. Once he finished, he reached under the lectern to withdraw the lever and unbuckled his arm.   "As you can see, I've written a sentence. Specifically, some groceries I need to pick up tonight." A few chuckles from the audience. "Now then, with a freshly inked quill and a new ream of paper?" He positioned his quill on the contraption, threw another lever, and the machine began to noisily grind gears. The clay discs were now rotating in the other direction, and the arm harness Actatus had hooked himself into was now moving of its own accord, to gasps from the audience. The machine clicked to a halt, and the Grand Philosopher held up the other paper.   "Identical, of course. The machine has imitated my motion and perfectly recreated my writing in a way that no printing press could ever come close to achieving. It makes no difference to the reader of the message whether I wrote it, or the machine did." The Philosopher tossed the copy away. "The difference, of course, is that I have a mind and the machine did not. Nothing compelled me to have written that I needed to pick up four eggs this evening. I could have written anything! The autowriter, however, must now continually rewrite my sentence and only my sentence until the end of time, until I withdraw the disc record and have it reset."   "And so, to my point, a definition of mind and mindless. Here's where you'll want to take notes. Simply put, my proposal of a mind is that which can modify its behavior independently of external change, such as me clearing the grooves on the clay. That which, when given a choice as to two paths to travel, may choose one or the other freely. Mindlessness, then, is that which cannot or does not modify its behavior, which must always go down one path, and requires assistance to alter its course. Thus a power-sail's captain has a mind, and the power-sail itself is mindless." Actatus pointed at a raised hand. "Yes?"   "Sir, aren't most people like that on a day to day basis, then? Mindless, I mean. Mine uncle always ate the same breakfast at sunrise, always cleaned the cobblestones on 10th days, and never deviated from his farmer's schedule. Would he be mindless, then?"   "And that is the crux of the matter." The Grand Philosopher folded his arms. "It is likely that, as our Power technology advances, the things your uncle does could be easily handled by a mindless machine. Set some gears to fry rashers and serve with buttered bread. Set a flatrod and wheel to clean the cobbles. Set a machine to sow and reap the fields." He pointed upwards. "In short, you are correct - if your uncle lived a life where every act was repetitive and never deviated, if your uncle could simply be replaced by a series of machines that did what he did on a daily basis, then he would fit this definition of mindless."   Murmurs echoed through the crowd. Actatus continued. "Therefore, if we as a people wish to remain in the domain of the mindful, we must remember that fact. Let the gears and cogs of power machinery take over the mundane and mindless, and turn your pursuits to thought that no machine could replicate, so that when you make choices, you may be reassured that no machine could replace the power of your mind."


This is a written transcript of a lecture given by Hyberos Actatus, Grand Philosopher of Etoile, recorded in First Season, 61st day, 724.
Record, Transcript (Communication)

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