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"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
- Peter Watts

Automonk  
  A robot with an AI trained on an individual monk.  

“Are the automonks conscious?” Ha asked. Evrim was turned away from Ha, looking out over the pagoda courtyard’s low stone walls to the sea far below.

“Debatable,” Evrim said. “Like the concept of consciousness itself. Their minds are extraordinarily complex and layered, but they are mostly just routines. They have been placed at about a zero-point-five on the Shchegolev Scale. They would have, with that rating, about the same rights as a house pet: protection from overt abuse, humane decommissioning. But on the other hand, each of them is a neural mapping of the mind of a Tibetan monk who actually lived. The Tibetan Buddhist Republic spares no expense. You can ask the automonks questions on philosophy, religion, their views on life. They’ll answer like the dead men they are modeled on. They are walking repositories of memory. Yet they have no apparent will of their own—their present state is automated. If you asked me personally, I would say they are not conscious. They do not progress. They have no orientation to the future—what you might call ‘will.’ They are like encyclopedias of the minds of dead devotees. Or maps of those minds. But the map is not the same as the territory.”

“Morbid.”

Technovelgy from The Mountain in the Sea, by Ray Naylor.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2022
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