Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"When you're making a revolution in cyberspace, things look rather different from the way the 1980s cyberpunks wrote it."
- Charles Stross

Hearing Aid  
  A service that allows people to anonymously talk with another person who only listens.  

This is another completely unique idea of Brunner's. There is also an interesting technical angle to Hearing Aid, but I don't want to discuss it (to avoid spoiling the novel). It has to do with the manner in which a call to Hearing Aid is done without creating any kind of record, thus ensuring the privacy of the session.

Stonkered or clutched or quite simply going insane, someone reaches for the phone and punches the most famous number on the continent: the ten nines that key you into Hearing Aid.

And talks to a blank though lighted screen. It's a service. Imposing no penances, it's kinder than the confessional. Demanding no fees, it's affordable where psychotherapy is not. Offering no advice, it's better than arguing with that son (or daughter) of a bitch who thinks he/she knows all the answers and goes on and on and on until you want to scream.

From The Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner.
Published by Harper and Row in 1975
Additional resources -

This remarkable book is deals extensively with technology; issues like privacy and the consequences of keeping vast amounts of data of all sorts on one network are extensively reviewed.

And yet, the key themes of the novel deal with how to stay sane in a world of technological complexity. In the case of Hearing Aid, a powerful technology is employed to allow everyone in a society in which there was little real privacy to have an essential human experience - a sympathetic, nonjudgemental listener.

This excerpt from the book details an experience of a user of Hearing Aid:

From a public veephone at the railcar terminal linking Tarnover to the nearest town he called Hearing Aid, for the first time in years, and for one dark lonely hour poured out the secrets of his heart. It was a catharsis, a purgation. But long before he had regained his room he was shaking, haunted by the fear that Hearing Aid's famous promise ("Only I heard that!") might not be true. How could it be? It was absurd! From Canaveral the tendril-ears of federal computers wove through his society like mycelia. No place could possibly be immune. All night he lay awake in fear, expecting his door to be flung open and stern silent men to take him under arrest. By dawn he was half-minded to kill himself.

Miraculously, there followed no disaster...

The complete anonymity provided by the Hearing Aid service was the result of a special computer tapeworm provided at the inception of the service:

The poker who wrote Precipice's original tapeworm was pretty good, but you could theoretically have killed it without shutting down the net that is, at the cost of losing thirty or forty billion bits of data. Which I gather they were just about prepared to do when I showed up. But mine . . . Ho, no! That, I cross my heart, cannot be killed without dismantling the net."

The following statement by philosophy professor Jacob Needleman makes a very strong statement; in the world of The Shockwave Rider, there is support for this important part of the human experience:

Simply put, there is nothing, nothing in the world, that can take the place of one person intentionally listening or speaking to another. The act of conscious attending to another person when one once discovers the taste of it and its significance can become the center of gravity of the work of love. It is very difficult. Almost nothing in our world supports it or even knows about it.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 4 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Shockwave Rider
  More Ideas and Technology by John Brunner
  Tech news articles related to The Shockwave Rider
  Tech news articles related to works by John Brunner

Hearing Aid-related news articles:
  - OK2TALK Like Hearing Aid From Shockwave Rider
  - Blahtherapy - You Vent Anonymously To Strangers
  - Talkspace Anonymous Therapy App

Articles related to Communication
Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
True Crime Live Podcasting In Fiction
Zoom Adds Real-Time, Live Translation
Will The Super Bowl Go To Pay Per View?

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

Megachurches Catch Up To Heinlein
'Mars,' the kid repeated, threw Boone a Scout salute and made a sixty-foot leap over the crowd.

Olympus 3D Printing Using Lunar And Martian Materials
The system may be used to create critical infrastructure on the Moon, including landing pads, blast shields, and roads.

Robot Builds Robots From Voxel Subunits
'I was patiently building the most dangerous thing in creation...'

Meltz Neurorehabilitation Robotic Hand
A new type of rehabilitation called "neuro-rehabilitation.

San Francisco Wants ED-209, Or Maybe Robocop
'The Enforcement Droid series 209 is a self-sufficient law enforcement robot...'

Seoul Self-Driving 42dot Bus Unveiled
'Buses without drivers moved close to the curb and stopped at intervals.'

T. Gondii And The Leaders Of The Pack
'... infected males were more than 46 times more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected males.'

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...'

MIT Self-Assembling Reprogrammable Materials
'Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases...'

Mem, The All-Your-Memories, Super Note-Taking App
'Life experience is linearly additive, but the correlation of memory impressions is an unlimited expansion.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.