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In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the Mechanical Hound is a cybernetic beast used to hunt down and kill enemies of the state like Guy Montag. Equipped with a powerful sense of smell, a head-mounted needle capable of injecting lethal doses of anaesthetics like morphine or procaine, and broadcast-quality cameras for eyes, it provides the folks at home with cynical reality-based entertainment that presciently evokes a slightly darker and more choreographed COPS.

When I was a kid, images of the Mechnical Hound haunted my nightmares for weeks. It still gives me a shudder or two to look at the running AIBO prototype my co-workers built for Sony. The United States has already used Predator drones to kill without trial American citizens that the CIA assures us were commie mutant traitors, even releasing video of the process. All that's needed to equal the horror of the Mechanical Hound in this modern world is a smaller package and a little wider acceptance of extrajudicial killing.

I headed out to E2 tonight thinking of a riff on the idea of a chattering pack of AIBOs chasing a hapless protagonist down the street in some low-budget horror/comedy short. Just as I was about to start, my memories of the Mechanical Hound sandbagged me and chilled my extremities. Sometimes I'm scared to death of the world I live in, and Ray Bradbury is and always has been a master at showing me why with powerful images like this.

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