Monday, October 14, 2013

From Samuel Butler's "Erewhon," chapter XXIII "The Book of the Machines"

"Surely if a machine is able to reproduce another machine systematically, we may say that it has a reproductive system.  What is a reproductive system, if it be not a system for reproduction?  And how few of the machines are there which have not been produced systematically by other machines?  But it is man that makes them do so.  Yes; but is it not insects that make many of the plants reproductive, and would not whole families of plants die out if their fertilisation was not effected by a class of agents utterly foreign to themselves?  Does any one say that the red clover has no reproductive system because the humble bee (and the humble bee only) must aid and abet it before it can reproduce?  No one.  The humble bee is a part of the reproductive system of the clover.  Each one of ourselves has sprung from minute animalcules whose entity was entirely distinct from our own, and which acted after their kind with no thought or heed of what we might think about it.  These little creatures are part of our own reproductive system; then why not we part of that of the machines?"

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