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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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Stan Lomisceau
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 7:59pm | IP Logged | 13  

you have to admit that maybe if the vision turned white again it would be better than to be torn in half. if the other writer had more ideas like mr byrne instead of the tearing in half marvel would not be doing so bad!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 9:51pm | IP Logged | 14  

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

*****

Just as with humans, thought balloons for the Vision merely represent an approximation of what's going on in his brain. A more "realistic" representation would be unreadable, something like 100011101010001000111001100101111100001001010010010000100100 101001001001011100100101010100000110101010001001001000100100 100100010101010001110101000100011100110010111110000100101001 001000010010010100100100101110010010101010000011010101000100 100100010010010010001010101000111010100010001110011001011111 000010010100100100001001001010010010010111001001010101000001 101010100010010010001001001001000101010100011101010001000111 001100101111100001001010010010000100100101001001001011100100 101010100000110101010001001001000100100100100010101010001110 101000100011100110010111110000100101001001000010010010100100 100101110010010101010000011010101000100100100010010010010001 010101000111010100010001110011001011111000010010100100100001 001001010010010010111001001010101000001101010100010010010001 001001001000101010...

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Chris Hutton
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 10:13pm | IP Logged | 15  

There's a binary joke to be made here somewhere...
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Dave Powell
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 11:13pm | IP Logged | 16  

As opposed to the normal human brain...

I must.. she's hot.. save the ... oooh that's shiny...what was I thinking?  Oh yeah the world is bein... damn nice butt!... threatened...

Human Torch and Vision are sentient IMO, but not human... because procreation dominates both human sexes.  (Was that too blunt?)


Edited by Dave Powell on 20 November 2006 at 12:01am
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John Benson
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 11:52pm | IP Logged | 17  


 QUOTE:
010000011010101

I was going to make the joke about the Visions brain being 64 bit but that's got me thinking. Has anyone ever thought through the value of tri-state logic? Having a third, a maybe, in with the positive and negitive? Instead of 010000011010101 it would read 010020200111012021201.

DNA is four bit - ATCG and could be rendered 100203002444404234310 instead of  AACGAGCATGTCAGCACC. It's an information carrying not a logic circuit though 

The basic logics operators for binary are

AND, OR, NAND AND NOR

(A AND B are positive, A OR B is positive, both A AND B are negitive and Neither A OR B is positive)

You'd have AND, OR, NAND, NOR MAND, MOR, MNOR AND MNAND (with M as the maybe)

Any hard core computer scientists out there with an idea if this was possible or even useful?



Edited by John Benson on 19 November 2006 at 11:55pm
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Dave Powell
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Posted: 19 November 2006 at 11:59pm | IP Logged | 18  

Being a medium computer guy... the trinary logic sounded great when Heinlein started forcing it into sci-fi.   But it quickly degenerates into chaos in reality.  Computers need to make a few more jumps before it becomes feasible. The reason it "works" for humans is that it is pushed to the minor role. 

When put into a mathmatical role (say poker)  ..

Hand good.. bet... draw bad... fold

works much better than .. Hand ok... bet.. draw ok... OH CRAP WHAT DO I DO?

I deliberately stayed away from the logic symbols, because logic symbols quickly stack up in a real life situation.
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Joakim Jahlmar
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Posted: 20 November 2006 at 5:03am | IP Logged | 19  

JB wrote:
"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'."

Two related follow up questions to this, JB. In comics (especially superhero comics I guess), it is fully possible for people to download their brain patterns into computers, etc. I think it could be argued fairly well that a version of this is what happened to Reed in the Negative Zone during your run on FF. Similarly, the Vision is or was partly structured on the emotional pattern or whatever of Wonderman, which obvisouly indicate that these traits too can be copied, reproduced and saved. Would you say then that it is the non-organic, non-biological and artificial (as in created/constructed rather than born) nature of characters such as the Vision that is the key component to the "toaster" version of things? Or what? How would you treat a someone like Steel in Doom Patrol if say, his brain was destroyed but his brain patterns and memory downloaded and reinstalled in an artificial or positronic brain? Just curious.

JB also wrote:
"Just as with humans, thought balloons for the Vision merely represent an approximation of what's going on in his brain. A more 'realistic' representation would be unreadable, something like 100011101010001000111001100101111100001001010010010000100100 "
[etc, shortened for brevity]

Maybe that is actually how human thoughts look as well, JB. Do we really know?

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Ted Pugliese
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Posted: 20 November 2006 at 9:58am | IP Logged | 20  

Brainiac 5 did such a thing this past Saturday on the Legion cartoon.  He sacrificed himself and just uploaded his saved copy, and ta-daa, he was back to normal, though he would be missing his last day's data.
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