“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.
Andy O’Meara, Blade Runner
During the past century, many writers in the field of science fiction in their books described how to create the perfect technology, the best example of which would be robots. The books described the robots that live among people, robots that are more decent and humane than people. But two eternal questions about robots always concerned any reader.
The first is a moral question: robots and technology in general is good or bad? It is evil or kindness for their creators?
Also, people have always wanted to be unique. Therefore the second question arose: how much humanity do the robots and machinery have? Can they have human emotions, feelings, and be like men, and eventually replace people? This work tries to answer these two questions.
The advancement of technology in our society has allowed us to enjoy an overflowing of new learning opportunities by giving us access to more readily available information than ever before. However, these two questions are the same, although they are now displayed on the screens.
In the movie Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scotts, the robots, or cyborgs known as Replicants, were created perfectly to be nearly indistinguishable from humans. In the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “I Robot, You Jane,” a demon named Moloch is a synthesis of technology and demon. Both movies show these two questions differently.
Blade Runner is considering more the second question about the humanity of robots. Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, is on a mission to find a group of Replicants who are in search of their own mortality. Perception of the film depends on the following fact: who is the protagonist of the film – human or robot. Therefore, the following arguments (in favor of the fact that he is a Replicant), are shown. It is very important for proving our thesis: answering the both questions.
First of all, Deckard sees in his dreams a unicorn. The last images of the film show he finds a miniature paper figure (origami) of a unicorn on his doorstep; – his partner Gaff makes such a figures from foil. Music is the first link in the chain of associations to the image of a unicorn. Unicorn showed galloping the brightly lit forest – a world which is completely different from the bleak urban landscape that someone can see in the film. It indicates the unreality of a dream. It is possible that the dream of a unicorn – a standard implant in the minds of Replicants. It is indicated by figure of a unicorn, flashed before the audience among other toys in the apartment of replicates designer Sebastian. It can be concluded, just as Deckard knows about artificial “flashback” of Rachael, Gaff knows the content of “dreams” of Deckard, because they were implanted to him artificially.
Further proof of the technical nature of Deckard is that at the very beginning of the film Deckard learns from police officer that the Earth was penetrated by six Replicants (three males and three females). A police officer said that one of them was burned in an electric shielding field. And Deckard hunted for four Replicants. This discrepancy is sometimes interpreted as an indication that Deckard was the sixth Replicant. Like Replicant Leon and Rachael Deckard is fascinated by photographs of alleged relatives as proof of being human. Scaling the photos of the room of Leon he finds ma on it, similar to himself, and drink, to which he had a passion. Photo seems to be made before Deckard “reprogram”, when he was on the side of the Replicants. The previous acquaintance of Decard and Roy is evidenced by the fact that at the first meeting with Roy Decard immediately was called by name.
Answering the question about the inhumanity of Deckard’s nature, author emphasizes the humanity of his character. Author put the idea that Deckard wants to be human, and that makes him good. Roy uses people, it shows the evil in him.
Filtered through the consciousness of Deckard images of “Blade Runner” show, how memories, emotions and desires form a collage that is called as consciousness. Exactly the desire to be free from all sorts of restrictions, physical and spiritual, makes any creature more humanistic. Line of distinction between humans and Replicants in the movie is narrow like a blade. Defender of exceptionality of people and a fighter against Replicants find himself as a Replicant. One of the founders of the Replicants named Sebastian, because of premature aging, stands into the position of its creatures and goes to their side. Emotions such as fear of old age, which is human, can make wake up evil in Sebastian’s soul, and force him to fight against the people.
A similar idea is laid in I, Robot – You, Jane. As Willow scans the contents of the book into the library computer, Moloch is released into the Internet. Moloch begins to seduce Willow, and her feelings and attraction toward him grow deeper each day. Moloch, a synthesis of technology and demon, is able to control Willow’s mind and he tricks her into falling in love with him. The machine’s power distorts the human’s perspectives and blinds them to their sense of humanity.
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Unlike the story of Blade Runner, which focuses on humanity in the nature of a robot, the theme of power of kindness and evil distorts humanity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer “I Robot, You Jane.” In this story, humans are brainwashed by the power of technology. For example, in one scene high school student Fritz kills his classmate Dave because he has been brainwashed by Moloch who entices him by promising a new life of knowledge and power. He works his way to achieve what he wants without regard to his sense of humanity. It is evident that humans lose their minds because of lust for power, Fritz shows this by saying, “I’m jacked in” several times while wearing an unconsciousness expression, and writing the letter “M” on his left arm. In this scene the viewer can tell that Fritz is being brainwashed as he lets Moloch take him over because of his desire to receive knowledge and power.
The author shows that people can lose their humanity because of the evil within them (in Blade Runner robots acquire humanity, and this makes them good).
Continuing the theme of humanity, creatures show human-like qualities when they begin to exhibit remorse for killing humans. As we know, remorse is a uniquely human emotion. In the film, the Replicants only have a life span of four years, very short as compared to the lives of humans. This becomes a problem when Batty meet Tyrell, the owner of Tyrell Corporation and the creator of Batty. He says, “I want more life, father.” But Tyrell does not grant his wish; in his disappointment Batty murders Tyrell by sticking his eyes with his middle fingers. This scene proves to audiences that the robot does have human emotions. He feels upset because he cannot extend his life span. His feelings lead him to kill his “father.” The Replicant exhibits a clear sense of humanity.
As in Blade Runner, “I Robot, You Jane” shows how humanity shifts by way of violent scenes. The actions and behavior of characters in violent scene captures the audiences’ attention, and create with an audience feelings of suspense and fear. Audiences pay more attention to movies that focus on humanity via violence. In “I Robot, You Jane” there is a scene where Fritz tries to kill Buffy by electrocuting her as she stands under running water. This scene shows how Fritz, who is controlled by Moloch, begins to lose his humanity and become more like a robot. Although this scene is violent and disturbing, it contains an important message about how a human’s sense of humanity decreases when they are merged with evil.
Both the stories of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “I Robot, You Jane” and Blade Runner tell us how cyborgs and humans relate and communicate, and how robots ultimately reflect both the best and worst of humanity. The struggle between robot and humanity is the main theme or focus in both screenplays. But obvious themes are not good people or evil robots, but good and evil inside people or good and evil inside robots. Evil is inherent in the fact that Moloch uses people, and not the fact that he is the synthesis of technology and demon. In both movies attitude toward people makes other creatures good or bad. In this case, the more humanity creation contained, the more good is in its soul. This is the obvious answer on both questions which can be seen in both works.
This corresponds to the second question clearly: technology and robots are capable to be humane. Emotions, consciousness and feelings make them humane – as the human soul is manifested in this way. However, the author has put a different idea, the more they are human, the greater good is in them. Deckard and Rachel had analogue of human souls.
This corresponds also to the first question clearly: technology and robots are neither bad nor good for the reason that they are creatures. The fact that Deckard is a Replicant, do not make him good, because there is Roy, who is also a Replicant, but evil lives in him. Moloch, who lives in the episode only through technology, is an absolute evil. They all take a position between good and evil because of their choice. Like people, every creature that has a consciousness, and can make a choice, is good or bad just because of its choice.
In both Blade Runner and “I Robot, You Jane,” there is a clear shifting of humanity between robots and humans. Both movies show factors such as love, power, disappointment that result in a change in both human and robotic emotions. Thus, Replicants become more human because of experiencing love (which is good) and disappointment, while humans able lose their humanity due to a robotic thirst for power (the evil that lives within their souls).
To sum up the answers to the two questions the following can be said. Robots and technology in general, according to the authors of Blade Runner and “I Robot, You Jane,” are able to have emotions. They feel love, fear, frustration, remorse, hate, lust for power. These feelings have human nature, because they belong the people, the creators of robots. At the same time, people are able to act like robots, doing mechanical action, killing other people. But the first (creatures of people) cannot be considered evil due to the fact that they are robots. The second (creatures of God) cannot be considered good only for the reason that they are human. Every creature is good or bad just because of its choice, not because of its entity. The both movies teach to make a right choice.
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