Technology Spontaneously Approaching Humanity With The Passag Essay, Research Paper
Technology Spontaneously Approaching ?Humanity? with the Passage of Time
By Avner Erez
Tel Aviv University , Department of Film & Television
Tools once helped early man increase his survivability, and they became more and more useful as means to achieve our goals. Today, innovations in technology have allowed us to fabricate tools of increasing complexity. As we recognize that the most effective tools have human characteristics, such as a computer capable of learning, we will give our tools these characteristics. If technological innovations continue, we could actually create tools that are human, or at least beings that challenge how we define being ?human.? Ridley Scott?s Blade Runner and James Cameron?s Terminator 2 offer two particular scenarios of futures in which the state of technology gives us the ability to do ?questionable things.? As we give our machines selected human characteristics to make them more efficient, they will tend to discover humanity in their own unique way, rising above their ?specifications? to actually become human.
By definition, tools are designed specifically for certain tasks, and as technological tools, the T800 and the replicant are deigned to meet specific specifications. In Terminator 2, the T800 is a multipurpose cyborg assigned to save John Connor, given a series of ?mission parameters,? initially characterized by his computer logic. He often advises John based on permutations of the T1000?s next move, similar to the way a chess computer decides what move to make next. Just as the T800 is designed to perform solely as a unemotional computer, the ?replicants? in Blade Runner are designed to work in slavery without protest. Since it?s remarked in Blade Runner that humans develop emotions by existing for a period of time, it is predicted that replicants could not develop emotions in their four year life span. So it?s easy for the society in Blade Runner to equate replicants with machines, indicated so politically by the term ?retirement.? As in Terminator 2, these manufactured beings are intended to parallel humans only in efficiency and effectiveness, not in emotion. Similar in practice to how we solve problems, the T800 is a learning computer, designed to carry out its objectives dynamically. The Nexus 6 generation of replicants simulates human intelligence by actually using a human brain, taking advantage of the human brain?s innate intelligence and ingenuity. Both the T800s and replicants were designed to carry out prescribed functions, like any other machines, enhanced by their creators who foresaw the distinct performance advantages offered by the human abilities to learn and reason.
Their creators, however, did not anticipate these selected human characteristics to dynamically grow into other human characteristics. These films document how ?human? technology will always assume more human characteristics. They suggest that to be human is to reach some state of equilibrium. In other words, an entity initially bestowed with any combination of human related characteristics will spontaneously approach a more stable state through the passage of time, like a chemical system out of equilibrium. Just as we grow uniformly content through our venerable years, artificially created beings grow increasingly human with age. Roy, designed as a fierce ?combat model,? has ironically grown to be a poetically rich man and draws our attention to the pertinent issues of Blade Runner by the elegant efficiency of his words.
Roy is an excellent case of ?human? technology spontaneously evolving to become truly human. His quest to extend his and his comrades? lives shows that he well understands the richness of life. He relishes every moment of his life, and he makes tactful commentaries relating them to the irony of his present situation. ?It?s not an easy thing to meet your maker,? Roy sardonically observes upon confronting Tyrell, prompting us to consider the implications of such a meeting between creator and created. Following Tyrell?s remark, ?you?ve done extraordinary things,? Roy sarcastically replies, ?nothing the god of biomechanics won?t let you in heaven for.? Roy, resentful that he is arguably less than human, is using tragic sarcasm to describe Tyrell receiving credit for Roy?s accomplishments, like the way an inventor receives credit for his invention?s accomplishments. Roy has become so deeply enriched with the feeling of being emotionally alive, he sees no better way to express the inexpressible poetically. In his final soliloquy atop a building in the rain with Deckard, Roy recounts his most triumphant moments and acknowledges a great sadness within him. He reluctantly foresees that ?all those moments will be lost? at his death, understanding the tragedy and hopelessness of his and his comrades? situation. Roy has grown into a philosopher, transfixed by his human desire to live like any other.
Roy?s comrades also have come so very far. In their few years, they?ve grown dynamically, as any intelligent beings would, to assume a more steady-state we call ?humanity.? As the diversity of their personalities unfolds in Blade Runner, it becomes clear they?ve acquired healthy human qualities. Zhora, a replicant model designed to kill, ironically chooses to dance for men while Pris, the ?pleasure model,? seems to have a more sinister personality, with her painted face. When Leon discovers his lover, Zhora, was shot and killed by Deckard, a deep ?human? rage consumes him, these emotional responses providing unmistakable proof for true human qualities that lie beneath.. Once emotionless shells in their early years, they have spontaneously acquired their own personalities.
The T800, in Terminator 2, is shown to grow in this same way. However, he grows to a lesser extent because this film takes place in the infancy of his development. In Blade Runner, Roy and his comrades have already been alive for three and a half years, in contrast to the T800?s few weeks. When replicants are created, they have no emotional response and no understanding of humanity because Tyrell explains these qualities are learned. More specifically, he describes how emotional response results from accumulated memories. Similar to a newly created replicant, a newly created T800 acts solely on binary logic because it has no past experiences from which to draw. Since the T800 and a replicant start identically in this way, we can treat the two as one and the same. Therefore, the newly created T800 in Terminator 2 could easily be substituted with a newly created replicant. Likewise, Roy?s poetic words in Blade Runner could very well be the T800?s words, provided the T800 has lived long enough. Between the two films we have a consistent, continuous documentary of ?human? technology from its infancy to its maturity.
The process that causes ?human? technology to assume a more true human form is dynamic, changing at a rate depending on the degree to which it has already changed. Such a process implies an exponential curve, characterized by a extremely slow rate of change at the time short after their creation followed by rapid increases. The T800 is extremely slow to understand John?s justification for why ?you just can?t go around killing people,? because a purely logical brain cannot impose new boundaries on its decisions without parameters. In other words, logical reasoning requires that all its priorities have logical explanations. Accordingly, the T800 queries to obtain such a logical explanation, asking ?Why not?? Because of the enormous complexity of this issue coupled with the youth of his own years, John can only reply, ?I don?t know?you just can?t!? With such a flimsy logical defense of life, it?s understandable why the T800 cripples the next potential victim commenting, ?he?ll live.? However, when he restricts his gunfire to subduing gunfire, in the Cyberdyne building scene, destroying the police transportation and tear gassing the police officers, we finally see how quickly he?s able to learn. Not less than thirty minutes later, just before the T800 lowers himself to die, he has learned enough to tell John, ?I understand why you cry now.? If he would have lived, his growth rate would continue on its trend, turning from small steps to leaps and bounds.
Tyrell describes memories to be the very heart of emotions. Because replicants early in their life have no memories, and thus no emotions, society considers them as mere machinery. As Tyrell recognizes that humans are different from replicants only by the memories they carry, he designs an experiment to test this theory. Rachel is an experimental replicant, implanted with false memories designed to make her believe she grew up like any other. With memories to furnish her emotions, Rachel was human from the moment of her ?birth.? When she learns of her replicant heritage, she is devastated, as any person would be, and ironically grieves in human ways. She numbs from the shock, in a haze from her personal world suddenly crumbling to dust. We would no doubt react in a similar way if we were suddenly told we were replicants. In other words, even in her defeat, she brilliantly fits Tyrell?s ?more human than human? slogan. Rachel is the end stage, the equilibrium stage, of the evolution of ?human? technology. At this stage, she is emotionally complete from a wealth of memories and is completely indistinguishable from her human creators, for she truly is human.
Just as these films document how ?human? technology approaches the state of ?human? equilibrium, they support its implications as well. If all ?human? technology will tend to spontaneously approach humanity, then we should logically see evidence of a turning point: a point when the technology denies its preprogrammed purpose to better pursue human goals. Roy and the others reach this point when they throw down their enslavement to pursue a more promising and fulfilling future. Reaching a crossroads in their lives, they chose to pursue humanity, the moment they chose to hijack their transport shuttle. In a similar way in Terminator 2, Skynet, the national defense?s intelligent super computer ?decided our fate in a microsecond? when it initiated a nuclear strike to kill most of the world?s population. How could a computer grow to make such a decision? Although John teaches the T800 why its wrong to kill, no one ever taught Skynet the value of human life, for it was only programmed to preserve its own. Having not been taught the value of human life, Skynet grew to misinterpret its purpose of maintaining a strategic superiority over other powers, deciding the best strategy to assure its own survival was to eliminate all threats. Like all the ?human? technology in these films, it grew in way related to what it was initially taught, that is, it grew dynamically.
Given the proper time, artificially intelligent technology will always deviate from its intended purpose to pursue a more preferable existence. Because Terminator 2?s T800 and Blade Runner?s replicant both suffer the consequences of not having memories when they are created, they grow in an identical way. This justifies why Terminator 2 and Blade Runner are actually different segments present parts of a single story. Between the two films, they outline three key phases of ?human? technology?s spontaneous tendency to reach a more steady state. It first experiences a period of transition as its mind learns how to understand philosophical issues, such as how the T800 learns to understand life?s uniqueness. Next, it dynamically changes as it interactively uses what it has already learned to learn more. Roy has come infinitely far from a thoughtless soldier, contemplating the nature of his human surroundings and longing for days he can peacefully breathe in the world around him. Finally, it lives long enough, or at least think it has in Rachel?s case, to truly reach a state of equilibrium we call ?humanity.? Like any state of equilibrium, it is not possible for the process to be reversed, just as it is not possible to reverse the beating of an egg. On a smaller scale, each of us converges on a more tranquil state of mind, perhaps best illustrated by the peaceful smiles we remember on our grandparents? faces. This analysis predicts only one outcome if the human race develops the ability to create technology capable of learning and reasoning. Like a marble resting on a slant, if this ?human? technology is subjected to any outside impetus, it will accelerate towards a more stable ground, a section of asphalt we have colorfully chalked, ?humanity.?