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"In science fiction one can say a great many things that are unpalatable, because it's expressed as science fiction you can slip it past their defenses."
- Frederik Pohl

Electronic-Eyed Snake  
  A fully automated stomach pump.  

In the not-too-distant future imagined by Bradbury in the novel, accidental suicide by ingestion of freely available tranquilizers and other drugs is so common that machines are created to deal with it.

In this excerpt, Montag is forced to summon medical help for his wife, who has apparently overdosed on sleeping pills.

They had this machine. [It] slid down into your stomach like a black cobra down an echoing well looking for all the old water and the old time gathered there... Did it suck out all of poisons accumulated with the years? It fed in silence with an occasional sound of inner suffocation and blind searching... The entire operation was not unlike the digging of a trench in one's yard.
From Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.
Published by Doubleday in 1953
Additional resources -

Here's another description:

He tried to count how many times she swallowed and he thought of the visit from the two zinc-oxide-faced men with the cigarettes in their straight-lined mouths and the electronic-eyed snake winding down into the l ayer upon layer of night and stone and stagnant spring water, and he wanted to call out to her, how many have you taken tonight?

All of us who read this novel as school children in the 1960's recognize many elements of the world of Fahrenheit 451 in present-day America. The depersonalized care offered to poor people in large cities might as well be done by the same contractors who install cable TV in your house.

The author artfully draws an analogy, getting you to think about the psychology of a person who willingly loses herself to drugs and media. If you dug down deep enough, would you find the despair or ennui that causes this behavior?

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Fahrenheit 451
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Bradbury
  Tech news articles related to Fahrenheit 451
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Bradbury

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