"He had wondered as had most
people at one time or another precisely why an android
bounced helplessly about when confronted by an
empathy-measuring test. Empathy, evidently, existed only
within the human community, whereas intelligence to some
degree could be found throughout every phylum and order
including the arachnida. For one thing, the empathic faculty
probably required an unimpaired group instinct; a solitary
organism, such as a spider, would have no use for it; in
fact it would tend to abort a spider's ability to survive.
It would make him conscious of the desire to live on the
part of his prey. Hence all predators, even highly developed
mammals such as cats, would starve.
Empathy, he once had decided,
must be limited to herbivores or anyhow omnivores who could
depart from a meat diet. Because, ultimately, the empathic
gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim,
between the successful and the defeated. As in the fusion
with Mercer, everyone ascended together or, when the cycle
had come to an end, fell together into the trough of the
tomb world. Oddly, it resembled a sort of biological
insurance, but double-edged. As long as some creature
experienced joy, then the condition for all other creatures
included a fragment of joy. However, if any living being
suffered, then for all the rest the shadow could not be
entirely cast off. A herd animal such as man would acquire a
higher survival factor through this; an owl or a cobra would
Evidently the humanoid robot
constituted a solitary predator.
Rick liked to think of them
that way; it made his job palatable. In retiring -- i.e.
killing -- an andy he did not violate the rule of life laid
down by Mercer. You shall kill only the killers, Mercer had
told them the year empathy boxes first appeared on Earth.
And in Mercerism, as it evolved into a full theology, the
concept of The Killers had grown insidiously. In Mercerism,
an absolute evil plucked at the threadbare cloak of the
tottering, ascending old man, but it was never clear who or
what this evil presence was. A Mercerite sensed evil without
understanding it. Put another way, a Mercerite was free to
locate the nebulous presence of The Killers wherever he saw
fit. For Rick Deckard an escaped humanoid robot, which had
killed its master, which had been equipped with an
intelligence greater than that of many human beings, which
had no regard for animals, which possessed no ability to
feel empathic joy for another life form's success or grief
at its defeat -- that, for him, epitomized The Killers."
-- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by
Philip K. Dick