I think every one of my posts so far contains a moral of the story…it’s kind of my theme :). Which is why I wanted to include an explanation on why this post doesn’t have a clear lesson to share. The topic discussed below is one of those ethical dilemmas in which there never seems to be a single answer. When the question is viewed from either side both have valid reasons for believing as they do which makes it difficult for a third party like ourselves to pick a side. It is one of those situations where the value lies not in finding an answer but in knowing to ask the question.
Blade Runner 2049 asks the audience what qualifications must a being meet in order to be considered human. In the world of Blade Runner 2049 the line is drawn based on whether the entity was born or created. Anyone who was born, has a soul and is therefore human. Anything which was created, no matter what human qualities and appearance it may process is a machine and is not part of the human species.
In the world of Blade Runner these created beings are androids, called Replicants in the movie, and they are identical to a human in appearance and mannerism. Replicants are the perfect worker. They can use all the tools humans can and since they are created to think like a human they can easily understand and act upon any request. While one might imagine them as the perfect butler or assistant, the humans in this futuristic world treat Replicants more or less as slaves. They are used as a disposable tool to work in conditions too hazardous for a real human to work in. This may not cause much of a stir in one’s moral compass if it wasn’t for the fact that the movie quickly shows the audience Replicants are quite capable of independent thought and reason. They have their own feelings, fears, and even dreams. When you add this mental capacity into the mix the rule outlined above starts to come into question.
At what point do we recognize something as sentient? Given the rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence it may just be a matter of time till the line between robot and sentient being begins to blur. But is it hubris to believe it is even possible for us to create something which can replicate (see where they got the name?) our humanity?
What are your thoughts on the above questions?
If you saw Blade Runner 2049, what did you think of the movie compared to the first one?