Mostly Harmless: Three Douglas Adams Inventions We Wish Were Real

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MarvinMarvin the Paranoid Android
As we inch ever closer to achieving true artificial intelligence, science fiction is always on hand to remind us how it could all go horribly, horribly wrong. The Terminator. The Matrix. Even recent episodes of Revolution — sci-fi loves nothing more than to remind us of the possibility that our curiosity and inability to stop tinkering with things may well lead to our eventual extinction or enslavement under unfeeling A.I. masters. It seems to me that, once again, Douglas Adams has shown us the way. With a brain the size of a planet, there’s little question that Marvin the Android could have been a daunting foe for organic life if he’d put that mind to it. But even if he could attempt to overthrow his organic creators, he never would because he was always too busy wallowing in a self-perpetuating existential funk. He couldn’t be bothered to go forge his destiny in the universe because, let’s face it, whatever he found out there would almost certainly be just as bad or worse as what he was dealing with back on the Heart of Gold. The easy way to avoid a Skynet scenario is just to make sure all our electronic brains have a copy of Marvin’s code. Keep them responsive enough to follow orders, but way, way too depressed to put together a robot uprising.

Arthur: I lived on a beautiful planet once.

Marvin: Did it have oceans?

Arthur: Oh yes; great big rolling oceans.

Marvin: I hate oceans.

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  1. Gardner Underhill says:

    You missed the SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem) field generator. It makes anything within the field somebody else’s problem and therefore completely invisible outside observers.

    • Chris K says:

      Never mind that, you forgot something more important!

      You forgot the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters!

      • quentin says:

        There was a bar in San Diego years ago that sold a drink called just that. Doubt that it had any Ol’ Janx Spirit in it

  2. Scott Panfil says:

    Love that the 3 inventions are more than three.

  3. Jeff Brewer says:

    Great article. My only quibble is that you used a picture of Marvin from the movie, rather than the BBC MINI-series…

    • quentin says:

      If you watched the movie carefully, they did show the original Marvin for just a few seconds

  4. quentin says:

    Isn’t Google Glass pretty darn close to Peril Sensitive Sunglasses? There might be an app for that

  5. Truth says:

    well i can see this person doesnt read or he’d know it hasnt been a “Trilogy” since nearly the start.

    there are 6 books out there:

    Hitchhiker’s guide
    Resturaunt at the end of the Universe
    Life the Universe and Everything
    So Long and Thanks for all the fish

    Mostly Harmless (released several years later)

    and a lesser known 6th book released after his death:

    And Another Thing (By Eoin Colfer) Dont know if Adams had any contributions to this story

  6. gazinbali says:

    Ohhh Im soooo depressed….

  7. libby says:

    This is what Marvin the Paranoid Robot really does look like.