Re: CHAT: Great Brains

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 18:38:52 MST wrote:
> Jim, those British and their love for the elegiacal. ...
> It's inspiring and yet it's not...

Yes, yes, mea culpa, I have to admit I'm a sucker for
the stuff. My film-buff friend, when I get on his nerves,
calls me a "toadying Anglophile" and a "Masterpiece Theater
queen". ;->

> If Great Brains arrive before people have access to an
> ultra-smart AI SI,... some would want to take over the
> world.

Which is exactly what they do in _Last and First Men_:

"At the last moment the Great Brains were able to put into the
field an army of... perfect slaves, which they equipped with
the most efficient lethal weapons. The remnant of original
servants discovered too late that they had been helping to produce
their supplanters. They joined the rebels, only to share in the
general destruction. In a few months all the Third Men, save the
new docile variety, were destroyed; except for a few specimens
which were preserved in cages for experimental purposes. And in a
few years every type of animal that was not known to be directly
or indirectly necessary to human life had been exterminated.
None were preserved even as specimens, for the Great Brains had
already studied them through and through...

For the Fourth Men, the Great Brains, there was no possible
life but the life of intellect; and the life of intellect had
become barren. Evidently something more than mere bulk of
brain was needed for the solving of the deeper intellectual
problems... They must learn somehow to remake their own
brain-tissues upon a new plan. With this aim, and partly through
unwitting jealousy of the natural and more balanced species
which had created them, they began to use their captive
specimens of that species for a great new enterprise of

Little by little the Fourth Men began to realize that what was
wrong with themselves was not merely their intellectual
limitation, but, far more seriously, the limitation of their
insight into values. And this weakness, they saw, was the
result, not of paucity of intellective brain, but of paucity
of body and lower brain tissues. This defect they could not
remedy. It was obviously impossible to remake themselves so
radically that they should become of a more normal type.
Should they concentrate their efforts upon the production of
new individuals more harmonious than themselves? Such a work,
it might be supposed, would have seemed unattractive to them.
But no. They argued thus: 'It is our nature to care most
for knowing. Full knowledge is to be attained only by minds
both more penetrating and more broadly based than ours. Let
us, therefore, waste no more time in seeking to achieve the
goal in ourselves. Let us seek rather to produce a kind
of being, free from our limitations, in whom we may attain the
goal of perfect knowledge vicariously. The producing of such
a being will exercise all our powers, and will afford the
highest kind of fulfillment possible to us. To refrain from
this work would be irrational.'

Thus it came about that the artificial Fourth Men began to
work in a new spirit upon the surviving specimens of the
Third Men to produce their own supplanters."

-- _Last and First Men_, Chapter XI, "Man Remakes Himself"
   Section 2, "The Tragedy of the Fourth Men"

Jim F.

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