A Logic Named Joe

"A Logic Named Joe"
AuthorMurray Leinster
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Science fiction short story
Published inAstounding Science Fiction
Publication typePeriodical
PublisherStreet and Smith
Media typePrint (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication dateMarch 1946

"A Logic Named Joe" is a science fiction short story by Murray Leinster that was first published in the March 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. (The story appeared under Leinster's real name, Will F. Jenkins. That issue of Astounding also included a story under the Leinster pseudonym called "Adapter".) The story is particularly noteworthy as a prediction of massively networked personal computers and their drawbacks, written at a time when computing was in its infancy.

Plot

The story's narrator is a "logic repairman" nicknamed Ducky. A "logic" is a computer-like device described as looking "like a vision receiver used to, only it's got keys instead of dials and you punch the keys for what you wanna get".

In the story, a logic whom Ducky names Joe develops some degree of sapience and ambition. Joe proceeds to switch around a few relays in "the tank" (one of a distributed set of central information repositories), and cross-correlate all information ever assembled – yielding highly unexpected results. It then proceeds to freely disseminate all of those results to everyone on demand (and simultaneously disabling all of the content-filtering protocols). Logics begin offering up unexpected assistance to everyone which includes designing custom chemicals that alleviate inebriation, giving sex advice to small children, and plotting the perfect murder.

Eventually Ducky "saves civilization" by locating and turning off the only logic capable of doing this.