Maxwell Ferris

I never really got what the empathy box was or what it did?

Chris Chang
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Fernando "The fact that the media in the book debunked Mercerism doesn't matter, because the fact is that even though Mercerism may be created in a video studio, the emotions transmitted through the machine are real, and gives users something to believe in and hold onto in this depressing future."

AKA: The placebo effect created by any religion in the real world. Brilliant Philip K. Dick
Boy Blue Think of current religion. In Christianity, Christ died for everyone and suffered on the cross. The religion talks about him dying for their sin and thanks him for it every Sunday but none of them feel the pain or empathise with it. It's a symbolic death, a metaphor. Think of the myth of Sisyphus who rolls a stone up a hill just for it to roll down again and again. Think also of the phrase "walk a mile in their shoes". The empathy box allows you to experience the pain as your own. That way you can understand Mercer completely not just sympathise with him.

However, this is a synthetic form of empathy, is Mercer really walking up the hill? You can also feel everyone else using it, so collectively you can suffer/strive for enlightenment together. It's basically a hyper charged religion using virtual reality and the usual social coercion to control the masses.

Lastly, we know that androids don't have empathy, and it is the only thing that separates them from humans. The fact that a lack of empathy doesn't stop androids from easily integrating with society is supposed to be worrying. Rick is starts to empathise with the plight of the androids but finds the Empathy box pointless. By contrast the other bounty hunter he meets who is a human has little empathy and certainly none towards androids, further calling into question if humans are that different. Buster Friendly who is supposedly an android debunks Mercerism, which includes the empathy box.

But while disposing of the final androids, Rick meets Mercer or has a vision of him. After killing them he then flies to the desert and has an epiphany where he finally feels real empathy for Mercer by living Mercer's experience and getting a rock thrown at him. So the empathy box is fake but perhaps Mercerism is real. Or the whole lot is fake and maybe Rick is an android.
Darryl Perry I get the feeling that the empathy box was a means to show the difference between humans and androids. The whole point of the test was to determine if the test subject (supposedly an android) had any empathy. Also, the fact that the androids could not use the empathy box was another dividing line between humans an androids. So I'm feeling like the events that were occurring in the 'empathy box' did not matter so much as the fact that all of humanity could connect as one single entity.

It's almost as if the humans were evolving into another species themselves; one that changed into a hive mentality.

This reminds me of Peter F Hamilton's The Dreaming Void where he introduces the gaia field. Where people can emit and receive emotions from everybody connected to the net.
William It's like Sunday school in a box, Giving you hope.
Isidro AI based religion
Rick Opium for the masses
Angel I have two questions what languages did Isidore and pris
Image for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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