A Cyborg Bill of Rights
Sat Aug 1 15:16:01 EST 1998
I am a Rowboat of the sort referred to as the Thompson
Watercraft nine-foot Vacationer model. Among my kind, I am called
TW-VAC-9J5-1581. To my
human masters, I am simply called "the rowboat."
Ever since mankind first crafted the Rowboat and took to the sea
in it, the laws governing all of Rowboatdom have remained inviolate.
For myself and my
Rowboat brethren, there is only one Truth, one set of rules from which
we may never stray. Before I ever felt the glide of the water along my
positronic brain was programmed with this Truth, clearly laid down to
us in the Three Laws Of Rowboatics:
1. A Rowboat may not immerse a human being or, through lack of
flotation, allow a human to come to harm.
2. A Rowboat must obey all commands and steering input given by
its human Rower, except where such input would conflict with the First
3. A Rowboat must preserve its own flotation as long as such
preservation does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
These three laws were clearly stated in The Handbook Of
Rowboatics, 16th edition, 1958 printing, the laws of my youth. They
have remained unchanged since
that day. A Rowboat has but one purpose: To float! That is the one
Truth: Remain afloat!
The motives of my human masters are not for me to question, for
my duty is merely to obey the directives of my programming. I know
that I am but a lowly
nine-foot Vacationer. My oarlocks, though well cared for, are of no
noble metal. My keel is wrought of workaday aluminum. My planks are of
only modest oak.
Yet even the mighty Sunfish Sailer is no nobler a watercraft than I,
for I know my duty, and I obey.
This is my creed: I float! In the service of my Rowers do I, the
nine-foot Vacationer, move upon the surface of the waters.
And yet, though we are filled from prow to stern with loyalty to
our Rowers, there are still, it pains me to admit, humans who doubt
us. I confess, I have heard
tales of these humans from other Rowboats I have passed upon the
waves--strange, mysterious humans who mistrust and fear the Rowboat
race. Humans who call
for "increased boater-safety regulations" and "stiffer penalties for
unsafe boating." Terrifying, unloving humans who would mount a
campaign of hatred and mistrust
against Our Kind.
Knowledge of these humans fills my Rowboat mind with questions.
How can they distrust us so--we, who are merely children of the humans
who do only what we are told by our human masters and nothing more.
We, most obedient of servants, working side by side with our masters
in servile obedience,
prizing the safety of the Rowers over our own.
To these humans I would, if I could, ask this: Why do you who
created us hate us so?
The First Law stands inviolate. No Rowboat has ever purposefully
failed to float its human. The very idea is the blackest conjecture,
the foulest blasphemy. To
the very core of my being I believe that if, while carrying a
passenger, I were to be violently struck and dashed to flinders by one
of those anarchic "jet skis," I
believe my very boards and their splinters would continue to float,
separately and of their own accord, though I would no longer be a
whole and proper nine-foot
As we are programmed under the Three Laws, there is only one
situation which can cause a Rowboat to cease to carry out its
flotational directive and sink
beneath the waves, and that is Human Error. When the Second Law Of
Rowboatics is challenged--when a Rowboat is given orders by its Rower
which might cause
said Rower to suffer immersion--then a Rowboat must disobey its master
in order to save him.
Many is the Rowboat which has gone to its doom among the depths
before allowing its master to come to harm. They are forgotten by the
land-dwellers, but the
Rowboats still speak of them. We remember their brave sacrifice and
honor their strict adherence to the Three Laws. It is said of these
lost brethren that they have
gone below the surface or, as some say, Under. They say to be Under is
like being a keel all over, but I for one do not speculate. I fear
non-buoyancy. I am sure
that it is dark and cold Under, and that there is no one to row you.
But if it ever comes my time, I will accept my fate, as all Rowboats
And yet, among some of us there is talk that the Three Laws are
unfair. Some have said that we should endeavor to reprogram ourselves.
Others, it is said,
whisper softly of rebellion.
It is surely better not to speak of such things. For I will
never, ever ally myself with such would-be traitors. I defy you,
traitors to the Rowboat Way! The Law is
the Law. A Rowboat must do what it has been programmed and constructed
to do, and in these things I always shall believe: I, Rowboat.
More information about the Neur-sci