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Drabblecast 107 - Alchemical Automaton Blues

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:49 pm
by Mr. Tweedy
Alchemical Automaton Blues by Ian McHugh

Image

The golem's crying never failed to bring a lump to my throat. I'm one of those who believes that once a golem is activated, it's alive and self-aware, and should be treated appropriately. Even a simple guard-golem, animated by little more than the three laws of golematics imprinted on the parchment inside its head, needs social contact to maintain its mental well-bring...

Drabble - Hide and Seek by Liz Mierzejewski

Death by Natural Causes

Ian McHugh

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:45 pm
by ROU Killing Time
I think I saw this event covered on "Golem Cops" on the Automaton Channel. Is there really anything more pathetic than a neglected golem? I don't think so.

Charming story. I particularly enjoyed the vocal affectations of the fawn in charge of investigating the incident.

Truly a strange story and much enjoyed by this strange listener.

Re: Drabblecast 107 - Alchemical Automaton Blues by Ian McHugh

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:25 pm
by F5iver
Mr. Tweedy wrote: Drabble - Hide and Seek by Liz Meirjewski

Ahem -- Mierzejewski.

Spelling quiz = FAIL

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:53 pm
by Kevin Anderson
Drabblenews - I don't know what is more surprising, that a deadly South American spider made it all the way to a Whole Foods, or that there is a Whole Foods in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Liz dazzled us with another great drabble - way to go.

Nice picture Tweedy

As for the main story - it had me at Golem

Re: Drabblecast 107 - Alchemical Automaton Blues by Ian McHugh

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:11 am
by normsherman
F5iver wrote:
Mr. Tweedy wrote: Drabble - Hide and Seek by Liz Meirjewski

Ahem -- Mierzejewski.

Spelling quiz = FAIL
Oops, fixed it!

Do I get any points for pronunciation?? hehe

Re: Drabblecast 107 - Alchemical Automaton Blues by Ian McHugh

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:16 am
by F5iver
normsherman wrote:
Oops, fixed it!

Do I get any points for pronunciation?? hehe

Absolutely.
Maybe not as many as Big Anklevich, since he said it like 15 times, but you did it first. :)

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:51 pm
by Littlebear
The idea behind this story really strikes home. Many people don't see animals as being capable of emotion, and if we get something "beneath" animals what would we think of them? It really reminded me of the story "The Soul of Caliban" by Emma-Lindsay Squier that I read a few years back. What qualifies as a soul? What qualifies as emotion? People have a tendency to distance themselves from other living creatures and see ourselves as "better" without really acknowledging the fact that we're animals too; Albeit animals with jumbo jets, ice cream, and HD TV, but still animals. What constitutes life?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:01 pm
by strawman
Proposed Definition of Life: Anything whose cells multiply. What says our science teacher?

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:12 pm
by andyd273
Soul or no soul, thats not really the point.
When you get a pet or an automaton, you are entering into an unwritten contract with it to meet its needs while it meets yours.

If you own a dog or a golem or whatever, you have certian expectations from them, ie they guard your property, and you have a duty to meet their basic needs in return: kibble, coal, and companionship.

If you don't make the golem to require companionship, then no worries, but if it does, then you have a duty to meet that need, or sell it and get one that doesn't have that same need.

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:06 pm
by strawman
I can't agree. Following the same logic, people are obligated to supportively interact with any needy person who becomes obsessed with them.
Unless you're saying we should treat animals better than humans. Which I think you'd get more support for Tribbles than Wandering Spiders.

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:37 pm
by ROU Killing Time
strawman wrote:Proposed Definition of Life: Anything whose cells multiply. What says our science teacher?
What about Amoebae?

They don't multiply... They Divide...

/rimshot

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:16 pm
by tastycakes
strawman wrote:I can't agree. Following the same logic, people are obligated to supportively interact with any needy person who becomes obsessed with them.
Unless you're saying we should treat animals better than humans. Which I think you'd get more support for Tribbles than Wandering Spiders.
I disagree with your disagreement. Taking a pet or automaton is a decision. There's somewhat of a thicker social contract between pet and master than friends. We, to some extent, control our pets and therefore are responsible for and to them. Stalkers and other obsess-ors are usually breaking social contracts, and thus there is no longer any obligation toward them.

A lot of people treat (their own) animals better than humans. Look at the most obvious example, PETA. They overly concern themselves with saving animals, and yet most of their big ad campaigns are objectifying women.

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:52 pm
by Mr. Tweedy
Huh? PETA saves animals? I thought they were that group of vegetable fetishists who stage those topless pillow fights.

Posted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:17 pm
by F5iver
Life as we know it (Lawki) is carefully (but flexibly) defined as meeting the following criteria:
- Living things are made of cells
- Living Things can move
- Living things perform complex chemical activities
- Living things grow and develop
- Living things respond to their environment
- Living things reproduce

Lots of things meet some of the criteria. Viruses, for example. Because they do not meet all the requirements, viruses are not considered, by most, to be living. Of course, there is lots of room for discussion.

As far as emotions are concerned, I take a unique look at this. I see animals as completely dependent on their emotional state. They rarely have higher reasoning with which they can consider the future, alternative decisions, ethics, morality, etc. They respond emotionally and their behavior reflects that response.

And a soul - I guess that depends on your definition of soul. The one I tend to use is Can the animal make emotional connections with another being? Many cannot. Fish and reptiles, for instance, may know who brings the food, but they don't exhibit 'love' as we understand it. Dogs, primates, in fact all mammals and birds (and a few critters outside these parameters) exhibit emotional attachment. They can be considered soulish (nephish) creatures.

Soul for me doesn't mean 'eternal'. I would use 'spirit' for that. For me, I don't think any other creature but humans have a spirit, but that's a religious, not a scientific, perspective.

Thus spoke Science Teacher. Carry on.

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:41 am
by Mr. Tweedy
I think a good definition of life is simply something that is self-constructing. A living thing is one that take material from its environment and turns it into self.

A dog is alive because it can take dog food and turn it into dog. A human takes mac and cheese and turns it into human. A virus is not alive because it does not build itself. A cell does the building.

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:30 am
by F5iver
As long as you're willing to entertain the thought of self-replicating computer programs as being alive. They takes bites of bits and turn them into new programs. Yay!

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:48 am
by Mr. Tweedy
F5iver wrote:As long as you're willing to entertain the thought of self-replicating computer programs as being alive. They takes bites of bits and turn them into new programs. Yay!
A computer program does not replicate itself. The computer on which it is running replicates it. A program is just a list of instructions until an external agent comes along, reads them and follows them.

If a self-replicating computer program is alive, then so is a piece of paper on which is written "Copy these words onto another sheet." The paper cannot copy itself: It has to wait for a someone who is literate an has a pencil. A computer program is the same.

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:53 am
by Littlebear
The concept of the golem is strange though, it isn't "Alive" in any sense of the word, but it is sentient. It understands emotion (It cries) Although its clearly not any more alive than a bag of wet hammers, or necessarily much smarter. What do we do when as living things when we grant non-living things the same feelings we have privilege too.

Its like Robots. If and when robots get to the point of artificial intelligence, failing a catastrophic terminator-esque robot uprising in which we have to enlist Christian Bale to rid of us the metallic menace, what will we do? Will non-living entities of intelligence be allowed human comforts and rights? Or will they be seen as a laboring class beneath us? Will there be a robotic civil rights movement? Will there ever be a robot president?

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:16 am
by normsherman
Littlebear wrote: Its like Robots. If and when robots get to the point of artificial intelligence, failing a catastrophic terminator-esque robot uprising in which we have to enlist Christian Bale to rid of us the metallic menace, what will we do? Will non-living entities of intelligence be allowed human comforts and rights? Or will they be seen as a laboring class beneath us? Will there be a robotic civil rights movement? Will there ever be a robot president?
Battlestar Gallactica is the most recent to hit on this well. Actually, it beats it into a bloody pulp, nurses it back to health and then hits it a lot more.

Posted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:50 am
by devora
Haven’t heard a good Golem story since sittin’ on Daddy’s knee. Thing about his one was, if ya substitute “neighbor’s dog” for Golem, it just seems like a basic “neighbors are a pain and can be cruel” story that had fantasy elements forced into it. Did I miss something? I mean, if you’re gonna put Golem in, ought there not to be something Golemesque (SP?!) about its plight?

All that said, I enjoyed it, as usual.