"Another reason why privacy could be just a passing fad, terrorism is going to get too good. "
- Larry Niven
||The automata that constitute the entire government, all in one building.
|"That square massive building just below us is the one we were in? And you say that is the center, the
brain, the key of the whole World Government?"
"That is the Government," Quentin replied. "Just
as your brain is you. These other countless acres of
buildings are merely its arms and lingers and eyes and
ears. Without this building they could not function, and
the world would be chaos."
Jack stared down fascinatedly.
"And yet," he breathed in amazement, "I ran through
miles of corridors, passed hundreds of rooms full of
apparatus and instruments, and not a soul did I see,*'
Quentin nodded in confirmation.
"For an hour I ran, and by the end of it I was caring
less about being caught than about finding some people about in these buildings. Is there no one?"
"No one," Quentin replied.
"And yet you say it's the Government!" The boy
"After all my explaining," Quentin said, "haven't you
realized that the Government is merely a huge machine, made of metal and rubber and glass and run by electricity
and light and heat?"
"Butóbut how can machinery govern the world?"
"Better than human beings can. Even your business men in Democratia use machines to help them run their businesses; their offices are full of automatic machines
for managing a business, time-clocks, adding-machines, bookkeeping machines, cash-registers, dictaphonesóno
end of them. The Government Machine is not essentially
different. Merely a little more automatic and a
little more complex."
"And are all the people willing to be governed by a machine?" It was all amazingly strange to Jack.
"They cannot conceive of anything else," Quentin explained.
"For three hundred years they have grown up
in it. They are intensely loyal to it, because it not merely
governs them as you understand the wrord govern ; it takes care of them as a mother takes care of children."
"They seem to be happy," Jack observed. Quentin nodded down toward the beautiful countryside
over which they were flying at a swift rate. The
green fields were intersected by broad roads and huge power lines, and the blue bulk of a city loomed on the
"The world is more prosperous than it has ever been
before," he replied. "Life is thoroughly comfortable,
absolutely safe and certain. But you would call it monotonous. Everybody does everything by rule and
schedule, all alike, the world over. Standardize. You
wouldn't like it."
"I couldn't stand it!" Jack exclaimed.
by Miles J. Breuer.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1932
Additional resources -
Compare to the games Machine from AE van Vogt's World of Null-A. Compare to other computers large enough to run whole planets or societies: see the City Fathers from James Blish's Cities in Flight, Watchdog from Jack Haldeman's story of the same name, and Deep Thought from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the Vulcan 3 from Vulcan's Hammer (1960) by Philip K. Dick.
See also the way computers design computers in Isaac Asimov's 1958 short story The Feeling of Power.
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