Jonathan Puckey is an interactive designer based
in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
“You know,” said Ninheimer, “I’ll tell you–just to watch it do you no good at all. You can’t understand human motivation. You can only understand your damned machines because you’re a machine yourself, with skin on.”
He was breathing hard and there was no hesitation in his speech, no searching for precision.
He said, “For two hundred and fifty years, the machine has been replacing Man and destroying the handcraftsman. Pottery is spewed out of molds and presses. Works of art have been replaced by identical gimracks stamped out on a die. Call it progress, if you wish! The artist is restricted to abstractions, confined to the world of ideas. He must design something in mind–and then the machine does the rest.
“Do you suppose the potter is content with mental creation? Do you suppose the idea is enough? That there is nothing in the feel of the clay itself, in watching the thing grow as hand and mind work together? Do you suppose the actual growth doesn’t act as a feedback to modify and improve the idea?”
“You are not a potter,” said Dr. Calvin.
“I am a creative artist! I design and build articles and books. There is more to it than the mere thinking of words and of putting them in the right order. If that were all, there would be no pleasure in it, no return.“A book should take shape in the hands of the writer. One must actually see the chapters grow and develop. One must work and rework and watch the changes take place beyond the original concept even. There is taking the galleys in hand and seeing how the sentences look in print and molding them again. There are a hundred contacts between a man and his work at every stage of the game–and the contact itself is pleasurable and repays the man for the work he puts into his creation more than anything else could. Your robot would take all that away.”
“So does a typewriter. So does a printing press. Do you propose to return to the hand illumination of manuscripts?”
“Typewriters and printing presses take away some, but your robot would deprive us of all. Your robot takes over the galleys. Soon it, or other robots, would take over the original writing, the searching of the sources, the checking and cross-checking of passages, perhaps even the deduction of conclusions. What would that leave the scholar? One thing only–the barren decisions concerning what orders to give the robot next! I want to save the future generations of the world of scholarship from such a final hell. That meant more to me than even my own reputation and so I set out to destroy U. S. Robots by whatever means.”
“You were bound to fail,” said Susan Calvin.
“I was bound to try,” said Simon Ninheimer.
Calvin turned and left. She did her best to feel no pang of sympathy for the broken man.She did not entirely succeed.