I grew up in rural southern California in the ‘50s. Life there seemed a bit slow so I passed my time between chores, schoolwork and music lessons by reading and dreaming of fantastic voyages and space sagas. All of that ended when I went to UC Berkeley in 1962, and it might have stayed that way, too, except that I was accepted into the Peace Corps in Niger, Africa from 1965 to 67 and it was there that I found what it is like to live in a place without technological change. It was a “fantastic voyage” to a place science fiction could not prepare me for.
Coming back to the U.S. after Africa was an equally serious shock, and I began to think about where all this technological change I saw everywhere might be leading. If the rate of increase in technology is itself increasing, will it lead to a period of extremely rapid increase in the future? Will technology someday be able to create itself without human intervention? And toward what ends – or do we have any choice in the matter?
I developed an interest in philosophy and the history of science, and fell in love with the writings of philosopher David Hume, biologist Stuart Kauffman, and neurobiologist Gerald Edelman (among others). I began to attend the Toward a Science of Consciousness conferences in Tucson. For my own peace of mind I began to compose a story about a future that might possibly be different from the Orwellian nightmare that I couldn’t dismiss. The Minded Man is the result of that effort.
I presently live in rural northern California with my family, library and the tools left over from a career in homebuilding. I’ve developed an interest in the Enlightenment and its philosophical successors, and there’s always something to plant or to repair around the house. But the starry-eyed future of my youth is no longer part of my dreams.
Instead, I observe technology in the hands of arrogant individuals who lack moral self-discipline. I wonder about the historic concentration of money and political power enabled by computers. I read about new military technologies that will increase the power of individuals by orders of magnitude. None of it seems as much fun anymore.
Where to find Robert Reid online
The Minded Man
by Robert Reid
Price: $2.99 USD. 103110 words.
Published on February 10, 2011. Fiction.
Brothers Rob and E-roy live in a post-technological future world tended by robotic "Personals". Their lives revolve around sports and pleasure until some robot-hating "Selfie" farmers bring E-roy into their secret, subversive Plan. The brothers soon face life-changing events that open new possibilities for serious romance, and for personal tragedy. Can ambition and honesty win against machines?
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