How to Be Less Human, by Max Porter

How to be Less Human

How to Be Less Human, by Max Porter

In his latest novel “How to Be Less Human,” Sula Davidovski examines the implications of human touch on faith and spirituality through the character of sarlon, an android who is part android and part human. Humanity has always interacted with machines; however, the modern age presents a unique challenge to the android’s programmers. Machines are not inherently good or evil, and they are not inherently capable of prejudice. Humans can become so attached to their technological systems that they can sometimes feel threatened by them, as in the predicament of the android replicant in “Terminator.” Sula concludes that humans have a hard time separating their technological systems from their emotional attachments, and this may explain the rise of religious and spiritual cults in the twenty-first century.

The premise of Sula Davidovski’s novel is a timely one, as Russia prepares for perestroika and the formation of the independent state of Israel. A secret military project discovers that humans can be made into a more desirable form by implanting synthetic organs into them. This leads to the creation of the android Chussilova, who is designing to be docile and obedient, and who can replace any of her former humans, including her biological parents. However, Chussilova proves to be more than human, as she begins to attack humans, driving them insane with fear, and kidnapping the children of the scientists who created her. As the tensions between the Replicants and humans rise, David explains the meaning of human touch in relation to the creation of artificial intelligence like Chussilova. He concludes that humans must learn to be less human in order to achieve more, and that the greatest danger is that we will become so attached to the technology of our day that we will fail to see its limits and destroy it before it is able to do us harm.

A long time passes, and a new android, Orpax, is created, replacing Chussilova. The two bots are paired and Orpax begins to drive Chussilova crazy with jealousy, until she starts killing humans. David and Silicone make a decision that they must save the humans they’ve worked so hard to protect, and they go into the bunker where the original android was created, but discover that instead of a human, there is only a robot; Chussilova. While Chussilova is completely mad, David realizes that if he removes the android’s mind, he can download everyone’s memories into his memory chip and have complete control of her body. Once he succeeds, he sets about freeing everyone from the evil that lurks within the bunker, including Chussilova’s partner, Alexia.