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Topic: Q for JB: Golden-age Human Torch (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Laren Farmer
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 2:32am | IP Logged | 1  

JB, I've always been interested in the original Human Torch and I enjoyed the way he returned in your West Coast Avengers run, and your later Invaders reunion in the Namor series. 

I've also been interested in your take on intelligent robots and androids...specifically how such characters are not really alive and cannot really have feelings like true life forms.  (And please forgive and correct me if I'm mistaken about this.) 

So, my question is...is the original Torch a life form or is he a toaster?  You showed him as being very emotional and human when you handled him.  (Falling in love with Ann Raymond for example.) 

I understand in the golden age comics, the Torch's origin as an 'android' was mostly ignored after his first appearance and he was protrayed as being very human.  And then there's the fact that he has blood...that he could give a transfusion to a human that would not only save the person's life but give them super powers.  That last fact has always made it hard for me to picture the Torch as a machine. 

Do you view the Torch as a person or a machine?  Do you think he's closer to humanity than the Vision? 

          



Edited by Laren Farmer on 19 November 2006 at 2:33am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 6:01am | IP Logged | 2  

Androids (ie, artificial humans) tend to blur the line between living and non-living. Especially in a case like the Human Torch, where his origin tends to establish him as something much more than a clever assemblage of non-organic parts. The "instability" which originally caused him to burst into flame spontaneously indicates there's an unknown factor involved.

Push come to shove, I would put Jim Hammond into his own category, and grant that, altho he is "not of woman born", he is, in a true sense, alive. In other words, not a toaster.

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Brian Tait
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 9:15am | IP Logged | 3  

I have it all figured out.
We should have seen it before...He's a frakin' Cylon!
We've been so blind!
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Ray Brady
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 10:29am | IP Logged | 4  

Until we can precisely define what emotions are and where they come from, I
would suggest that it is premature to conclude that machines cannot
possess them. The same goes for consciousness, I suppose.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 10:42am | IP Logged | 5  

In other words, not a toaster.

****

Although he could be, in another sense of the word.



Edited by Michael Penn on 19 November 2006 at 10:43am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 11:38am | IP Logged | 6  

Until we can precisely define what emotions are and where they come from, I would suggest that it is premature to conclude that machines cannot possess them. The same goes for consciousness, I suppose.

***

It's true that out here in the real world "consciousness" is something quite difficult to define, or to detect. I recently sent off an eMail to SKEPTIC magazine, scolding one of their writers for some Very Bad Science in an article in which she dismissed the notion that non-human animals are "conscious", and did so as if it was a foregone conclusion. As I noted in my letter, until such time as we learn how to read the minds of, say, dogs, there is no way we will ever be able to say for certain if they are "conscious" or not (tho all evidence points to the former). Meanwhile, of course, we will continue to see people insisting that friends and relatives who are brain dead might still be "conscious".

But that's the real world, and of only secondary consideration, if that, in this thread. In the "reality" of most superhero comics, it is possible to program a computer with such a high degree of sophistication that it is impossible to distinguish the processes going on within it from real human thought. The Vision and Ultron spring to mind. To a lesser degree, the highly adaptable Sentinels.

The question becomes, I suppose, one of value. Knowing that the Vision's complete personality/memory/intelligence was downloaded into a computer in Titan (was it Titan? Memory blurs) allowed me to scrape his brain in my VisionQuest story, since everything could be restored with a literal flip of a switch. Should something that can be so easily copied and retrieved be treated as having the same intrinsic value as a human being? Should any of the human Avengers, for instance, ever risk their lives on behalf of the Vision? My vote would be no (as some of you have probably already guessed) -- but I would say that even if it were not possible to restore or "save" the Vision in any other way. He is a "toaster".

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John Byrne
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 11:38am | IP Logged | 7  

We should have seen it before...He's a frakin' Cylon!

****

The Torch isn't, but the Vision might be!
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Ed Love
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 11:41am | IP Logged | 8  

I never saw Jim Hammond as a machine in the sense that he had mostly
inorganic/metallic and mechanical parts. The fact that he has blood of a
sort suggests that he is an organic being albeit still artificially created and
crafted to look human.
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Paul Lloyd
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 2:54pm | IP Logged | 9  

We know that the Vision is concious - we can see his thought balloons.

OK, the other Avengers can't see his thought balloons, but he certainly passes the Turing test. While that doesn't prove conciousness, if I was an Avenger I'd risk my life on his behalf.

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Shaun Crowell
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 3:18pm | IP Logged | 10  

JB, so the if the Vision was ever captured the Avengers would could just download his "data" into a new body? I guess I could see the Vision backing up his data at regular intervals.
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Simon Matthew Park
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 6:20pm | IP Logged | 11  

When I read this, Machine-Man sparang to mind. I always thought of Aaron Stack as being more human than machine, even though he could do all that 'stretching' with his obviously mechanical limbs. He always seemed more like a person than did, to use the current example, the Vision (to me, anyhow). His realtionship with Abel Stack (his 'father') was what gave me this impression, I suppose.

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James Revilla
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 7:08pm | IP Logged | 12  

Vision did back up his memory...a lot. It was mentioned in a few issues that he had updated his "saved" memories in case something had happened. Any one else remember this ?
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