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Riley, Frank – “The Cyber and Justice Holmes” (1955)


Not only another courtroom story, but another story about the robots in the court of law. Who knew? The District Attorney has promised, if re-elected, to “do all in my power to help replace human inefficiency with Cyber justice in the courts of this County!” Our point of view character, Judge Wahlfred Anderson, is displeased with this aspersion, but that is to be expected – he is 86 years old, and is so enamored with tradition that he keeps a portrait of Oliver Wendell Holmes in his courtroom. The case du jour is People vs. Professor Neustadt, prosecuted by none other than the District Attorney, and Anderson quickly realizes this is a shame meant to bolster the campaign when we find out that Neustadt is charged with fraud for giving performances at which he claimed to “take over Cyber functions and perform them more efficiently.” Neustadt, acting as his own counsel, tells the DA to bring a Cyber of his choice into the courtroom, which the defendant will outperform. Anderson tries to quash this idea, both men object, and the three find themselves in front of the Cyber Appellate Division (CAD!), which takes only 8 minutes to cite three cases to establish precedent. Back in the courtroom, the showdown between man and machine is neck-and-neck with questions about mathematics and science, but Neustadt of course triumphs when he is allowed to present his own question: “What are the magnitudes of a dream?” (“Problem unsolved.”) Neustadt launches into a monologue about humanity benefiting from technology without being suborned by it, and has the judge dismiss the case.

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