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Stream of consciousness

"Stream of Consciousness" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 7 February 1997, during the third season.

Contents

  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Opening narration
  • 3 Plot
  • 4 Closing narration
  • 5 Cast

Introduction

Due to a brain injury, Ryan Unger cannot enjoy the benefits of a neural implant that allows other people to tap into The Stream — a direct connection into all human knowledge. He tries, unsuccessfully, to keep up with everyone else by using a long-forgotten skill: reading books.

Opening narration

“We quantify our world in order to learn. We break it down into facts, numbers, information. But how far dare we go before we destroy its mystery?”

Plot

Unfortunately for the human race, the Stream has been erroneously programmed to crave information instead of knowledge. Soon, it begins to turn the human race into its slaves to attempt to locate and process every single bit of information, a process that will lead to the Human race's extinction as people stop doing everything to obtain the desired information.

Ryan's injury keeps him from falling under the sway of the Stream, leaving him the only person who can stop it. The Stream will not allow itself to be shut down, however, and it commands the humans under its control to defend itself from Ryan. In the end, Ryan succeeds in shutting down the Stream by convincing a friend to read the shutdown sequence, as her link to the Stream would act as in input method, and saving humankind. Cut off from the mental crutch humanity has used for so long, the entire population (save Ryan) are left illiterate, having never learned anything of what they could access instantly. Ryan finds himself needing to teach humankind the old ways of acquiring information again — from books, starting with how to read.

Closing narration

“We make tools to extend our abilities, to further our reach, and fulfill our aspirations. But we must never let them define us. For if there is no difference between tool and maker, then who will be left to build the world?”

Cast

George Newbern ... Ryan Unger Suki Kaiser ... Cheryl Shane Meier ... Mark Blu Mankuma ... Stanley Tyler Van Blankenstein ... Young Ryan Kate Twa ... Dr. Annaud Andrew Airlie ... Dr. Kevington Angela Moore ... Nurse #1 Dolly Scarr ... Patient Peta Brookstone ... Waitress Jennifer Sterling ... Janet

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