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