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.
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The Minded Man
by Robert Reid
Approx. 103,110 words.
Published on February 10, 2011.
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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