"In a Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong franchise in Phoenix, Arizona, Ng Securities Industries Semi-Autonomous Guard Unit B-782 comes awake.
"The factory that put him together thinks of him as a robot named Number B-782. But he thinks of himself as a pit bullterrier named Fido.
"In the old days, Fido was a bad little doggie sometimes. But now, Fido lives in a nice little house in a nice little yard. Now he has become a nice little doggie. He likes to lie in his house and listen to the other doggies bark. Fido is part of a big pack."
Is Fido truly a thinking dog, saved from the mean streets where he was beaten and even shot, only to be shown the better life of a factory-produced cyborg? Is Fido still a Frisbee-lover and "nice little doggie," or has he been stripped of all his "dog essence," and become just another serial number in the pack, a ruthless Rat Thing killing machine?
"Your mistake," Ng says, "is that you think that all mechanically assisted organisms...are pathetic cripples. In fact, we are better than we were before."
This is certainly a debatable point; but for now I would like to turn the discussion over to my ingenious cyborg friend, the CIC Librarian.
"Even though he is just a piece of software, he has reason to be cheerful; he can move through the nearly infinite stacks of information in the Library with the agility of a spider dancing across a vast web of cross-references. The Librarian is the only piece of CIC software that costs even more than Earth; the only thing he can't do is think."
"Thank you, Jake, for that flattering introduction."
Actually, you should thank Neal Stephenson; he wrote it.
"Yes, I know. Anyway, I hope you will think of me as an impartial moderator, seeing as how I am physically unable to form my own opinions. My plan is to invite opinions from the likes of Donna J. Haraway, Jean Baudrillard, and maybe even George P. Landow on matters such as language, human nature, and the definition of cyborgs.
"For now, Fido is sleeping, so let's try not to disturb him."
For more theoretical discussion from the Doghouse, please continue reading.
You may rejoin Hiro or Y.T. at any time.