The Clock Issue: Lady Frobisher Pilbeam Explains

March 9, 1885 ·



Her Majesty’s Emissary to Science the Honorable Lady Forbisher Pilbeam, was at the Tomorrow’s World… Today! event in London, where she held court with people concerned about recent developments at the Department for the Advancement of Sciences.

Reporter: What problems do you foresee with the work  being carried out by the government scientists?

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam: I am in favour of the clockwork automaton, but only under certain conditions: it must not annoy the working classes so much that they rise up against us, it must not fall into the wrong hands, it must not have the ability to replicate itself, and unless we can make it loyal to the crown without question, it must not be self-aware.

Reporter: How about the impact on the workforce, many people are currently without work.

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam: The idea of the clockwork servant is highly problematic. While I would not oppose their use entirely,  I would advise heavy restrictions. They should only be used to perform tasks for which human beings are unsuitable.

Large-scale production and use of automata, resulting in the loss of jobs for the working classes, may cause civil unrest and destabilize the realm.

If the crown wishes to endorse the use of automata in industry, precautions must be taken against this eventuality. I am certain that Her Majesty, in her benevolence, will neither starve her people nor deprive them of their livelihoods.

Clockwork automata should not be given the ability to manufacture other automata. This is for two reasons: first, if this were the case, and a single automaton was to fall into the wrong hands, we would be giving our enemies an army of automata. Second, if these automata were to–despite my third and final recommendation–develop self-awareness, and suddenly decide that they no longer want to serve their country, we would be giving our enemies an army of automata. In this case, we could even find that our enemy is the automaton itself.

Unless we can ensure their loyalty (and ensure also that this loyalty cannot be changed by simple mechanical means), we must take all precautions possible to prevent them from becoming self-aware. While the wisdom and prudence of Her Majesty command loyalty from all right-thinking individuals, it pains me to say that not all individuals are right-thinking. Who is to say that a self-aware mechanical person, exposed to the wrong kind of influence, will not decide to bestow its abilities on the wrong agencies? A human traitor is dangerous. A mechanical traitor is ten times worse.

Reporter: Isn’t this a licence to play “God” and how far can the scientists be trusted in the light of Saryn?

Lady Frobisher Pilbeam: Significantly, I noticed a change in opinion after it was revealed that scientists were attempting to install human brains in these automata. Following this revelation, around half of the people who told me that they believed the Clockwork Servant to be a positive thing, came back and told me they had changed their minds.

I am still unsure whether the installation of the human brain in a mechanical body is a real possibility. If it is, I can see a limited number of applications, including the preservation of those minds which are vital to our nation’s wellbeing. I would not, however, recommend the overt use of human brains in automatic bodies on a large scale.

The Clockwork Servant, if used correctly, could provide our nation with an enormous amount of power. Like any kind of power, however, it must be dealt with wisely, and it must not fall into the wrong hands. I have every trust that Her Majesty will choose the wisest course of action, and act in the best interests of her people.”

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