1. My recollections of The Twilight Zone episode are essentially accurate, although the gambler is actually a small-time crook named Rocky Valentine. Episode 28, "A Nice Place to Visit" (I learned the name of the episode after writing the prologue), aired during the first season of The Twilight Zone, on April 15, 1960.
The episode begins with a voice-over: "Portrait of a man at work, the only work he's ever done, the only work he knows. His name is Henry Francis Valentine, but he calls himself Rocky, because that's the way his life has been -- rocky and perilous and uphill at a dead run all the way. . . ."
While robbing a pawnbroker's shop, Valentine is shot and killed by a policeman. When he awakens, he is met by his afterlife guide, Pip. Pip explains that he will provide Valentine with whatever he wants. Valentine is suspicious, but he asks for and receives a million dollars and a beautiful girl. He then goes on a gambling spree, winning at the roulette table, at the slot machines, and later, at pool. He is also surrounded by beautiful women, who shower him with attention.
Eventually Valentine tires of the gambling, the winning, and the beautiful women. He tells Pip that it is boring to win all the time and that he doesn't belong in Heaven. He begs Pip to take him to "the Other Place." With a malicious gleam in his eye, Pip replies, "This is the Other Place!" Episode synopsis adapted from Marc Scott Zicree, The Twilight Zone Companion (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1982, 113115).
2. What were the primary political and philosophical issues of the twentieth century? One was ideological -- totalitarian systems of the right (fascism) and left (communism) were confronted and largely defeated by capitalism (albeit with a large public sector) and democracy. Another was the rise of technology, which began to be felt in the nineteenth century and became a major force in the twentieth century. But the issue of "what constitutes a human being" is not yet a primary issue (except as it affects the abortion debate), although the past century did witness the continuation of earlier struggles to include all members of the species as deserving of certain rights.
3. For an excellent overview and technical details on neural-network pattern recognition, see the "Neural Network Frequently Asked Questions" web site, edited by W. S. Sarle. In addition, an article by Charles Arthur, "Computers Learn to See and Smell Us," from Independent, January 16, 1996, describes the ability of neural nets to differentiate between unique characteristics.
4. As will be discussed in chapter 6, "Building New Brains," destructive scanning will be feasible early in the twenty-first century. Noninvasive scanning with sufficient resolution and bandwidth will take longer but will be feasible by the end of the first half of the twenty-first century.