Ng Security Industries Semi-Autonomous Guard Unit #A-367 lives in a pleasant black-and-white Metaverse where porterhouse steaks grow on trees, dangling at head level from low branches, and blood-drenched Frisbees fly through the crisp, cool air for no reason at all, until you catch them.
He has a little yard all to himself. It has a fence around it. He knows he can’t jump over the fence. He’s never actually tried to jump it, because he knows he can’t. He doesn’t go into the yard unless he has to. It’s hot out there.
He has an important job: Protect the yard. Sometimes people come in and out of the yard. Most of the time, they are good people, and he doesn’t bother them. He doesn’t know why they are good people. He just knows it. Sometimes they are bad people, and he has to do bad things to them to make them go away. This is fitting and proper.
Out in the world beyond his yard, there are other yards with other doggies just like him. These aren’t nasty dogs. They are all his friends.
The closest neighbor doggie is far away, farther than he can see. But he can hear this doggie bark sometimes, when a bad person approaches his yard. He can hear other neighbor doggies, too, a whole pack of them stretching off into the distance, in all directions. He belongs to a big pack of nice doggies.
He and the other nice doggies bark whenever a stranger comes into their yard, or even near it. The stranger doesn’t hear him, but all the other doggies in the pack do. If they live nearby, they get excited. They wake up and get ready to do bad things to that stranger if he should try to come into their yard.
When a neighbor doggie barks at a stranger, pictures and sounds and smells come into his mind along with the bark. He suddenly knows what that stranger looks like. What he smells like. How he sounds. Then, if that stranger should come anywhere near his yard, he will recognize him. He will help spread the bark along to other nice doggies so that the entire pack can all be prepared to fight the stranger.
– Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson