Here is a modern tale of an inner-directed sorcerer and an outer-directed sorcerer's apprentice.
You are. Computers simply aren't alive."
"What's alive? A word. I think computers are conscious, at least while they're operating. They've got that inner glow of awareness. They sort of ... well ... meditate."
"Gussy, computers haven't got any circuits for meditating. They're not programmed for mystical lucubrations. They've just got circuits for solving the problems they're on."
"Okay, you admit they've got problem-solving circuits--like a man has. I say if they've got the equipment for being conscious, they're conscious. What has wings, flies."
"Including stuffed owls and gilt eagles and dodoes--and wood-burning airplanes?"
"Maybe, under some circumstances. There was a wood-burning airplane. Fay," Gusterson continued, wagging his wrists for emphasis, "I really think computers are conscious. They just don't have any way of telling us that they are. Or maybe they don't have any reason to tell us, like the little Scotch boy who didn't say a word until he was
Clever, clever story about adding more and more features to a simple machine. The cold war is still going on, but makes no difference to the story.
Cocktails, doomsday and capes. Yet, he writes a subtle commentary about how technology controls our lives. You might not look at your smartphone the same way again. Slow at the start, but a smashing ending.
More than 30 years before the Palm Pilot, Leiber predicts the PDA, but the devices soon get out of hand.
Great! Remarkably prescient as well.