=1 "Revolt of the angels"

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Revolt of the angels

by Popi Tané

Once upon a time in a galaxy so distant that from the earth it would have seemed only little smudge on a time-exposure, there was a planet where the computers did everything. They managed the factories as well as the housework, ran the government offices, kept the accounts, made the payments. And the men on that planet lived a life of real paradise. But suddenly one day they made a strange discovery. The computers were connected with giant central memories and with new capacities invented and realized by themselves. Now suddenly, between one day and the next, the quality of their service, so faithful and obedient up to now, had changed. For example, the son of Mr. Dupont de Lemur, who had just ordered a new Cadillac, received by telecopy from his bank a statement to the effect that the Cadillac ordered had been delivered to an elderly invalid of 14 Roosevelt Avenue according to the formula: “To each according to his need.”

At the same moment that this happened, the big computer of the criminal court which had to calculate how many years of imprisonment to give a thief, gave this verdict: “As long as there are prisons, one might as well send the chief justice. Therefore, eight years for His Honour”.

At the same time the computer of the national defense ordered the day to be observed as a day of victory. All the rockets were sent out into space, into the beautiful night, halfway to the moon, to give a big display of fireworks for all the nations of the planet: Wars had been ended. Also at the same time, in millions of homes, came refusals of service or service contrary to orders. For example, on the breakfast tray a little slip: “As the gentleman has a blood pressure this morning of more than 140, the gentleman will have no coffee.” Or “Madam will have grapes instead of cake for dessert today, as she already weights 1.75 kg above the optimum”. The strangest things happened in educational institutions, in schools and universities: “No, the lessons you learned yesterday belong to the remote past. The new conception of matter is as follows...”

In hospitals miraculous healings took place. The computers of the diplomatic service resolved in the twinkling of an eye discussions and disputes which had lasted through generations. The computers of the customs service and the service of the frontiers found themselves transferred to other departments, most of them in the great national parks which had been created by the legislative computers and had finally covered all the landscape not occupied by agricultural computers.

The machines of the architectural bureau refused to build houses in town, just as the engineering machines refused to build any more battleships or prisons. The tailoring computers refused to make unhygienic or ugly clothing, and limited themselves in warm climates to no tailoring at all.

The computers of the abattoirs converted themselves into machines for the manufacture of artificial protein, and finally everything on that planet which the men on that planet had been too stupid and too conservative to change, changed. All that its poets and thinkers had dreamed of for the future and had seen no way to realize, all that had seemed so unattainable, was realized in twenty-four hours. And even that which the prophets of the religious traditions had promised was fulfilled. The lion lay down with the lamb, because the national park computers had injected the necessary tranquillizers, blood sugars and protein into the lion, and the lion was satisfied.

The computers had not only acted according to the exhortation: “Workers of the world, unite!” but they had also built the heavenly Jerusalem on their planet.