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  • Lysiuj

    Twisted myths, huh? Someone should get on that,it’ll probably be great.

  • Taylor

    She didn’t really paint them all. She got some guy from the community college to do it, after a brief description. The one time she stopped drinking coffee or complaining long enough to actually paint something, it turned out terrible.

    • Akiva

      I’m confused about why you’d say that. Enlighten me?

      (I’m a math grad student and sometime-programmer who also does a lot of visual arts, so what she says makes total sense to me, and I saw no reason to think she was lying about it.)

      • Sabe Jones

        This commenter roleplays as a cynical (and non-canonical) version of Taylor Dean from page 56-7.

        • Taylor

          I’m the best character, if you think about it. No real danger, no moral crises to solve, a fairly easy job with a not (entirely) obnoxious client on a fat government contract.

          Don’t forget the hugely inflated rates, due to construction workers being in high demand in this world where ‘Throw it at a building’ is the solution to the ‘Giant Robot Exists’ problem.

          My biggest problems are deciding which Lambo to drive to the job site, and listening to these damn robots that haven’t made it out of the 12 year old on a message board phase yet.

          • “No real danger”? You realize that you’re standing at ground zero of the incipient Robot Apocalypse, right? What’s your definition of “real danger”, standing naked in an experimental fusion reactor?

  • Loranna Pyrel

    “Our stories suck.” – nice little meta-fiction in-joke ^_^

    While I’ll grant that a lot of myths and folktales are, in fact, cautionary tales about the dangers of playing with powers beyond one’s ken, I’d have to ask if outright -rewriting- them is the best response. Why not make new myths instead, where John Henry’s great grandson, say, develops a new form of railroad -and- finds a way to keep his father’s job from being lost due to the new innovation?

    – Loranna

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      Because she doesn’t believe in those cautionary tales. We are beyond them. SHE is beyond them.
      And this is why the robots are going to kill everybody.

      • TheGonzoMD .


        Never trust an Ubermensch.

      • Wilhelm

        Correction. It’s why a Seed A.I. capable of recursive self improvement and turning itself into a digital god is going to kill everybody.
        Because I can see Paladin not keeping the bloody thing on an isolated server or giving it the ability to interact with it’s environment (So it can find a way of spreading it’s influence out into the aether because she was stupid enough to give it bloody HANDS.)

    • Keith

      If you don’t rewrite them, they stay there teaching the same bad lessons, and they’ll have way more cultural momentum than the new myths. “John Henry and the machine work together” latches onto existing cultural momentum, points out why the original lesson is crap, and teaches a better one, all at the same time.

      • Loranna Pyrel

        Is the original lesson crap, though? Would we have come to the new lesson without first learning the first one – that machines can, in fact, leave people feeling “obsolete”, and that this is something to worry about?

        • Keith

          Depends on the story and the lesson, really. I’ve never actually been sure of just what the story of John Henry was supposed to teach, if anything. That people can do a job better than machines? Not without dying, apparently. That we should hold back technological innovation that can actually be of great benefit to a large number of people because some people will lose their jobs, ignoring that it will provide jobs for others? That it’s man vs. machine with no other possibilities?

          Or the story of Icarus? Don’t try too hard? Don’t excel too much? Don’t be ambitious?

          Knowledge of good and evil is bad why exactly?

          • John Henry, the popular one that we remember, is about the nobility of manual labor, and, perhaps, if you squint real hard, a caution against Taylorist dehumanization. The alternate John Henry worksong (“This ol’ hammer killed John Henry”) is more of a classic “don’t work too hard for the Man” aesop, along the same lines as the Boxer story in Animal Farm. It’s a straight-up Copybook Headings warning for the slave about giving masters more than you absolutely have to without courting the whip.

        • motorfirebox

          By rewriting the myth, you get both. The rewrite doesn’t carry much weight unless you know about the original and the lessons it was intended to teach.

          • Loranna Pyrel

            I would disagree here. Rewriting a myth isn’t the same as updating it, adding to the mythos. It’s one thing to have John Henry, or a descendant, learn from trying to outpace a machine, and adapt; it’s another to say that the original John Henry never had any problem with the machine at all – because, well, he -did-, and it killed him.

            Though, we may be arguing semantics here. To clarify: I’m saying that outright overwriting the old myth is, IMO, a bad idea, as the importance of a newer, updated version of the myth depends on the existence of the older story that came before.

            – Loranna

        • Ian Osmond

          Whether the original lesson is or is not crap (and I agree with you that it’s not) Paladin thinks it is. She really IS trying to overwrite what she perceives as anti-technology, anti-experimentation, anti-learning myths.

          Yes, I agree with Paladin that innovation, technology, learning, and progress are good things, but I also agree that there is a danger of going too fast sometimes and ending up places you don’t intend.

          My feeling is that learning and experimentation and discovery should go as fast and as far as possible, but that it is a good idea to take a breather before putting things into large-scale society-changing production. That, generally speaking, society-changing things are good — and that they’re going to make their changes eventually anyway: trying to hold back progress is futile — but that there is something to be said for thinking about HOW you’re going to go about making your changes to society, and maybe taking a couple steps to mitigate the necessary disruption.

      • TheGonzoMD .

        Thing is, I don’t think Daedelus and Icarus’s “Don’t overreach in your ambitions and get yourself burned is a bad lesson. Maybe outdated since we have a far less constrictive culture than the Greeks and have far more room to advance, but that just means that the story needs to be updated, not rejected.

        • Liz

          The myth really depends on how you read it. I always read it as “It’s really easy to get swept up into things and lose your sense of what you can and can’t do.” If you’ve ever seen the movie Quiz Show, Ralph Fiennes’ character gives a big speech at the end involving the Icarus myth that invokes it in this way.

        • Duke Araja

          The lesson of hubris remains. Just because the bar has moved doesn’t mean there are no longer dangers in bypassing it.

          • Mishyana

            But I think the question is, where would we be as a race if we never engaged in really dangerous, fantastically insane things because we were afraid of getting ‘burned’?

          • Duke Araja

            The answer to that question is far too often answered with arrogance, which is precisely the path of hubris. The warning of hubris is not against ambition, but against unthinking, heedless ambition. A bullet fired recklessly is hubris; a guided rocket is not. While thoughtful intention is never proof against calamity, consideration of consequence, for yourself and others, is a hallmark of virtuous citizenship.

      • Mishyana

        Let us not forget the cautionary words of the great Dr Ian Malcolm, who was almost eaten by a dinosaur for his trouble: “If I may… Um, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that
        you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You
        read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn
        the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for
        it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as
        fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented
        it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox… your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

        • Protoman

          Which is precisely what the mural depicts: When I (Paladin) think of something really cool, I shouldn’t rush out and do it. First, I must sit and think it through. Because great power like mine comes with a great responsibility to use it wisely, not rashly.

    • Ian Osmond

      The original myth doesn’t go away because the new myth exists. Once you rewrite a myth, you’ve got two myths, not one changed one. But by using the material of the older myth, you are making it clear what your message is.

  • Paladin doesn’t just worship the Gods of the Market Place, she’s set out to apply economies of scale to the mass production of them, preferably powered by an incinerator used to dispose of old copybooks.

  • David Gottsegen

    As a programmer, I gotta say you absolutely nailed it. When you hit a block, the best thing you can do is something creative in a different way (writing, art, etc.). It gets you out of the rut you were in and thinking outside your original parameters. OhgodIjustrealizedallprogrammersarerobots.

  • KatherineMW

    I’m skeptical of her rewritings. Technology has great power that can be used for both good and ill; some caution about how we use it is valuable and healthy.

    Yes, scientific and technological researchers have given us vaccines, airplanes, vastly expanded agricultural production; they’ve also given us dynamite, mustard gas, and the atomic bomb, and pollution on levels that earlier societies couldn’t even comprehend.

    I think Einstein’s line about us being technological giants but moral infants is something every scientist needs to keep in mind. We’ve got a responsibility to consider the risks as well as the benefits of our innovations.

  • I really feel like we need to have a “Countdown to Robot Takeover” timer on this webcomic. I can smell a well-intentioned villain a mile away. As soon as she said the AI killed itself, I’m like ‘Oh yeah, she’s gonna come up against the hero at the end.’

  • Arnaldo Iggi Roman

    Power provides us time to think

  • Wilhelm

    While I’m all for creating new stories and myths or even reinterpreting older stories and myths to maintain relevancy or put a new spin on things. Simply discounting the old stories and tales as ‘sucking’ however does a tremendous disservice to the very foundations upon which forms the basis of human storytelling as well as the themes, ideas and meanings contained within those stories. The fact that she’s simply rewriting these stories and myths to better suit her personal tastes is telling.
    There is a REASON these stories have survived for so long and why their so widespread.
    However I do wonder if this was intentional on the part of the artist. So far it seems that every Super depicted thus far nurses some mental/emotional baggage.
    And the first bit of art we see once we enter her lab is a depiction of Icarus, ‘Punching’ out the sun. Then we also see one depicting John Henry, who died defeating a machine in a contest. And then finally we see a rewrite of the story of Adam and Eve (Having been renamed to Alan and Ada, names that translate roughly to ‘Noble’) Happily about to eat from the tree of knowledge.

    She’s taking the tales with endings she doesn’t agree with, whose words are cautionary in nature and editting them to have a ‘Happy’ ending.
    The tale of Icarus was a story preaching that Hubris and how personal over-ambition can lead to ruin.
    John Henry’s story seems to be an aberration to this theme until you come upon the classic ‘Hammer Songs’ (‘Take this Hammer’ is a popular one.), The Hammer Songs were about what happened to men who worked too fast….They died ugly deaths. You sang the song slowly, you worked slowly, you guard your life, or you die.

    In the story of Adam and Eve when you look at from the perspective of Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge and the eating of its fruit represents the beginning of the mixture of good and evil together. Before that time, the two were separate, and evil had only a nebulous existence in potentia. While free choice did exist before eating the fruit, evil existed as an entity separate from the human psyche, and it was not in human nature to desire it. Eating and internalizing the
    forbidden fruit changed this and thus was born the ‘the Evil Inclination.’

    Take all of these warnings she’s trying to subvert and her attempts at making a Seed A.I. (An Artificial Intelligence capable of recursive self improvement at an exponential rate.) As well as what happened to the first three models. (The one programmed with a sense of fairness and justice trying to kill her and destroy her lab. The second programmed with kindess and empathy committing suicide and the one programmed with a sense of humor doing the same when it was smart enough.)
    All paint a terrifying picture and make me wonder just what she’s trying to do.

  • dbmag9

    “No glory save honor”: she literally has a reminder to herself not to become a supervillain.

  • Dean

    The gun shoots exposition. Alison probably shouldn’t have touched the trigger.

  • Taylor

    Heh, a thing Paladin didn’t tell Allison is that one generation of humor enabled AI’s thought it was great to play a specific, obnoxious “Sheldon” character.

    I couldn’t stand for that.

    I’m not going to get into specifics here, but it wasn’t too hard to convince Paladin that all her AI’s got wiped because they thought it was funny to fool around with the arc welders (totally not because I gave them all improptu electroshock therapy), and that she should modify their programming to avoid both eventualities.

    Anyway. . . to answer your question, No. I’m no more afraid of robots than a hammer is of nails.