Computer Dreaming Synopsis Robbie is an alcoholic dying in a small shack on a freezing, snowy night. His last hours are attended by a priest, Father Mackey, who has known Robbie for many years at the mission he runs for indigents. As Robbie struggles through the near delirium of his final time, he tells Father Mackey a story of his life as a man named Anderson Jones. Robbie's tale begins in the earliest years of the computer industry. Anderson Jones, among the first programmers, is key to the many scientific successes being achieved at the newly founded Computer Sciences Division of the government’s National Studies Agency. The goal of the Division's head man, Dr. Aaron Goldman, is to be indispensable to any future history of computing. To achieve this he has confronted his fledgling division with a problem that the infant computer industry has only begun to fantasize; the creation of a mechanical intellect. Anderson's intuition tells him that a mechanical intellect is not possible, but he believes there is great value in pursuing it because they are uncovering and solving other, real problems that are fundamental to computing science. Working with his mentor, Dr. Charles Baker, a world class applied mathematician, Anderson and his small cadre of programmers begin to produce results that lead Goldman to bet everything on a radical expansion of the Division with the backing of the military. Goldman's vision of the Division's future requires that it be covered with the highest government security clearance. This creates a different and far more pragmatic problem for Anderson, for he must put 'unknown' into the security questionnaire's space for Father's Name. It is Goldman who forces the security system to accept him, but for Anderson it is always a reluctant acceptance, made tenuous by his apparently irreconcilable differences with the head of the Agency's security system, George Hamblin. It was just as he was about to embark on his career after finishing graduate school that he met the Bordinas, Clara and Mateo. He finds in them surrogate parents, and in Mateo a driving mystery that has shadowed his life. To his surprise, Anderson's computer experiments begin to suggest that it may indeed be possible to produce a mechanical intellect. Far more surprising is the discovery that he has, buried deep within himself, fundamental objections to its realization. And frightening is the discovery that Goldman has painted him into a corner so that he can leave the Agency only at the price of never again working in the computer industry. Anderson's wife, Aggie, and their son Mark are the primary underpinnings in his life. Deeply in love with his wife and fully committed to his family, his need to be husband, father and provider are in direct conflict with the impossible position his computing talents have put him in. Anderson's solution to the dilemma is to ignore it. However, it is Mateo who, even in death, is the father behind him, urging him forward toward his convictions. When Goldman reveals his grand plan to breach the last technical barriers, Anderson finally and conclusively rebels, becoming a victim, unheralded and unknown; becoming Robbie with computer dreams.
In Progress! by Leo Cohen
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