This is for my research project! I’d like to argue about the dangers of technology as it is the closest thing to what we can find as a manifested, physical double coming to life. We’re gradually getting closer and closer to what we may label an artificial human, and this invention will of course, be universally groundbreaking. I believe that it will obviously affect how we see ourselves, and possibly redefine what we believe to be “humanity”.  However, I think we’ve already been going through that process of redefining humanity ever since the first double? If that makes sense? From cavemen drawings, to mannequins, to now digital copies of humans, our understanding of ourselves and our experiences have progressed along with each new invented double. 

SOMA (Video Game):

SOMA, PC Version, Frictional Games, 2015.

What makes this game so terrifying is not just the creepy monsters chasing you around, but the awfully chilling and disturbing implications that the game throws at you as you run around as the protagonist. You enter the first-perspective view of a man named Simon who wakes up in the year 2104 in some kind of underwater research facility, and of course, he is just as lost as you are. The only way out of a dying, withering Earth is to launch the ARK, a spacecraft that copies human brain scans into a virtual, safe haven reality. However, you as the player, have to guide Simon through making copies of himself to get past certain levels, and question the morality of it all. I believe that this can be of good use in my research essay. Cloning/copying consciousness is a big thing in this game — like the final punchline of SOMA revolves around copies. Audiences are left existentially haunted when they reach the end credits, lost in thought over the doubles left behind on Earth. How human are we, when alongside our clones? What happens to our value, as the original being? How much is humanity worth in the grand scheme of things? When we compare ourselves to clones, copied brain scans, and other “non-human” beings, who is really more deserving of life? In what ways do we try to reject validations of life from other beings, especially when their doubled existence threatens the validity of our own? It leaves the viewer with this awful reconsideration of what it means to be human alongside other humans, if being human even means anything at all.

Brave New World (novel):

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York, Harper & Row, 1995. 

Marcus, Amit. Telling the Difference: Clones, Doubles and What’s in Between. Vol. 21, 2011, Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

The novel takes place sometime in the future in an advanced civilization known as the “World State”. It’s supposedly a perfect utopia, where people do not age, starve, cry, or even really want because all their needs are met by the government. Morals and traditions have been erased because they were either inconvenient or caused troubles, so people now use drugs and have orgies like it’s an everyday thing for them. They don’t have art, religion, privacy, an understanding of romantic, non-sexual relationships, families, or have a choice in determining their own careers, but that doesn’t matter to them because they are too busy being happy — and that is what makes this story so disturbing. This relates to the research essay because the citizens of the World State are all artificially made from the same formula, and so in a way, everyone is a clone of each other by biology and conditioning. So now, we have themes asking the audience how lack of individuality affects people, or if individuality is really a human need — why are we so scared of losing that individuality? Does our fear of doppelgangers, doubles, clones, etc. relate to individuality and personal identity? Also, it intrigues me as to how easily we can succumb to technology as it develops more and more to gratify our most selfish, animalistic desires (think of drugs, birth control, video game addiction, machine replacing labor). Will it change how society values personal individuality? What will we lose as a society if we are able to accomplish such a feat?

Blade Runner 2049 (movie):

Parker-Flynn, C., 2017. Joe And The ‘Real’ Girls: Blade Runner 2049. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 November 2020]. 

Gibson, Rebecca. “Angel Replicants and Solid Holograms: Blade Runner 2049 and Its Impact on Robotics.” Desire in the Age of Robots and AI, 25 Aug. 2019, pp. 75–108, 10.1007/978-3-030-24017-2_4. 

Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the original Blade Runner(1982), and takes place in a futuristic, cyberpunk world where replicants, artificially-made humans, serve organic humans. Replicants called “Blade Runners” are used to eliminate older models in order to prevent any possible uprisings, and that is what the main character, K, is. He goes around “retiring” older replicants without a bit of sympathy, as if he had completely no emotions or any human sentience. The plot itself is interesting, as K tries to figure out a case involving the birth of a replicant child (replicants aren’t supposed to be able to reproduce), but what’s arguably more interesting are the human doubles and their existence. There are of course, human women and replicant women, but also AI women. K is literally dating a hologram, Joi, who he genuinely does seem to care for, but when it is revealed that she is simply a product to romantically cater to customers, K is distraught. Finally, K dies to return a father to his child, and the movie ends leaving the audience with many hard questions. What does it mean to be human? Are emotions only a strictly human trait? How can something be fake if the feelings it evokes in us, are real? That last question is mainly pointing at Joi and K’s relationship, as many viewers wonder if what K and Joi had was even to be considered “true” love. If this digitalized emotion between them can be considered real “love”, then what defines “real” for humans and their seemingly “fake” doubles?

Dec. 13th, 2020:

Telotte, J.P. “The Doubles of Fantasy and the Space of Desire.” Film Criticism, vol. 7, no. 1, 1982, pp. 56–68, Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

Reinventing Humanity (research essay)

“Reinventing Humanity: The Future of Machine-Human – ProQuest.”, Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

The source talks of a theoretical, futuristic time period called “Singularity” where human and technology will be indistinguishable in society’s eyes. Humanity and their existence will be supposedly “altered” in attempts to merge the biological brain and the computer mind to advance overall society. According to the author, there will be a genetic, nano-mechanical, and robotic technological revolution sometime in the future to lead the earth into this period of Singularity, allowing people to be fused with machines physically and intellectually. “Humanity” will go through a redefinition as more and more of them becomes less natural, and this idea will be useful in my essay, as I find it relates closely to SOMA. As people become more machine than human, what can be said about humanity?

Telling the Difference (research essay)

Marcus, Amit. Telling the Difference: Clones, Doubles and What’s in Between. Vol. 21, 2011, Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

This essay seems to talk of the reality of doubles and how much of a double they really are. The author mentioned how clones who are genetically copied will still be able to vary in experiences, therefore differentiating their personality and overall mindset. Even with identical biology and genetics, conditioning and environmental factors will keep a double from ever being completely the same as the original copy — so I’m guessing this will be a “outward/manifested” double. An “inward/experiential” double would have to be in sync with the original body’s experiences, so something like The Portrait of Dorian Gray would be identical as both sides go through the same interactions and life. Since I’m working with clones, robots, and AI, I believe I’ll be working with outward doubles, as they’re only physically similarly, but will have their own sentience.

“Human clones, although approximately genetically identical, would resemble each other less than identical twins: unlike identical twins, they would share the majority of their genes, but not all; they would most probably not share the same prenatal environment; they may be raised by different parents in different environments, and possibly even in different eras.” (page 5)

Apocalyptic AI (research essay)

Geraci, Robert M. Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual RealityGoogle Books, Oxford University Press, 29 Nov. 2012, Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

This essay talks about the “Apocalyptic AI” and how religion could possibly be interpreted by artificial life. It doesn’t talk about whether or not this is a moral thing, but just seems to discuss the idea that non-humans can be religious. It says in comparison to the Apocalyptic AI, organic human beings are “bad” and inefficient because they are limited in biology while futuristic programs and artificial life are much more “good” and capable of never-ending improvement. It also talks of how society may abandon the real world in favor of a virtual one, essentially a technological double of our earth. The author then talks of the relationship between science and religion, claiming that the two are intertwined and cannot be separated despite what others may believe. I can understand this, as I just took a Darwinian Revolution class this semester and can grasp what they mean by the two being “intertwined”. Religion has shaped how we view science and vice versa, as many scientific philosophers back in the day were expected to not just find facts, but also come up with theories as why those facts and evidence even exist. There are some interesting keywords I could use here: transhumanists, apocalypticism (the original definition of it).

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