The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories By Phillip K. Dick (1987)
Author: Phillip K. Dick
Publisher: Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing Corp. (2002)
This is a short story of a future time when a government agency predicts crimes and arrests the future “criminal” before the crime is committed. It was also made into a movie directed by Steven Splelberg. While short it does raise a big question of how far we are willing to go to prevent crime. As technology advances we may discover a method by one means or another which test the limits of our beliefs and philosophies.
Below are a few words from a couple of sections that are worth reading and storing in the file cabinets of the mind and thinking about from time to time as you hear about some crime that is particularly gruesome. The type that makes you think “It would have been nice to prevent that.” Where would you draw the line?
“As they walked along the busy, yellow-lit tiers of offices, Anderton said: ‘You’re acquainted with the theory of pre-crime, of course. I presume we can take that for granted.’ “
“ ‘I have the information publicly available,’ Witwer replied. ‘With the aid of your pre-cog mutants, you’ve boldly and successfully abolished the post crime punitive system of jails and fines. As we all realize, punishment was never much of a deterrent, and could scarcely have afforded comfort to a victim already dead.’ “
“ They had come to the decent lift. As it carried them swiftly downward, Anderton said: ‘You’ve probably grasped the basic legalistic drawback to pre-crime methodology. Were taking in individuals who have not broken the law.’ “
“ ‘But they surely will,’ Witwer affirmed with conviction.”
“ ‘Happily they don’t – because we get them first, before they can commit an act of violence. So the commission of the crime itself is absolute metaphysics. We claim their culpable. They on the other hand, eternally claim their innocent. And, in a sense, they are innocent.’ “
“The lift let them out, and again they paced down a yellow corridor. ‘In our society we have no major crimes,’ Anderton went on, ‘but we do have a detention camp full of would-be criminals.’ ” Page 72
“….. The system of three pre-cogs finds its genesis in the computers of the middle decades of the century. How are the results of an electronic computer checked? By feeding the data to a second computer of identical design. The two computers are not sufficient. If each computer arrived at a different answer it is impossible to tell a priori which is correct. The solution, based on a careful study of statistical method, is to utilize a third computer to check the results of the first two. In this manner, a so-called majority report is obtained. It can be assumed with fair probability that the agreement of two out of three computers indicates which of the alternative results is accurate. It would not be likely that two computers would arrive at identically incorrect solutions –”
“…. unanimity of all three pre-cogs it is a hope for but seldom achieved phenomenon, acting Commissioner Witwer explains. It is much more common to obtain a collaborative majority report of two pre-cogs, plus a minority report of some slight variation, usually with reference to time and place, from the third mutant. This is explained by the theory of multiple futures. If only one time past existed, precognitive information would be of no importance, since no possibility would exist, in possessing this information, of offering the future. In the Pre-crime Agencie’s work we must first of all assume –” Page 85