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Mass effect and the fear of machines

by on December 11, 2012

All the talk of cyborgs, the post-human and the fear of machines got me thinking about a video game called mass effect. In this game the main antagonists are a race of ancinet sentient machines known as the reapers who are coming to destroy all space fairing life in the galaxy in order for a new cycle to begin. these machines are so powerful that they use a power called indoctrination where they can take over the mind of organcis beings and slowly convert them to synthetic life. This is seen in the main antagonist in the first game Saren who becomes more and more synthetic and uncanny as the story progresses see the picture below. this main story was perhaps influeced by Rossums Universal Robots as it seems to follow a similar plotline.

Alongside this main plotline one of the subplots deals with a war between a robot race known as the geth and thier creators the Quarians. In this sub-story the Quarians created the geth to be superior to themselves, something inventors in real life seem to be striving towards, however in the game game world the Quarians accidentaly give the geth sapience and they become artificialy inteligent upon realising this the Quarians demand for all geth to be terminated, the geth now aware of themselves as individuals fight back and a war ensues. This is a perfect example of creation turning on creator as feared by people in the world of robotics.

another Mass effect example of robots is in the character E.D.I. E.D.I. begins the game a the virtual intelligence of the ship but eventually develops into an artificial intelligence and eventully a living robot companion she even begins a relationship with the pilot of the ship and asks a number of questions about love as she cannot compute the irrationality of it but eventually she does somehow fall in love with him. this is very rarely seen in science fiction stories of a robot falling in love so i found it a particularly interesting case.

The last point in mass effect which i found particularly related well to our course was the ending (spoiler alert if you havnt played the games and or are going to) and the end of the story you discover there are only 3 ways to stop the Reapers, 1. you can destroy all synthetic life in the galaxy destroying the reapers but also destroying the geth who are now your allies and E.D.I. who is part of your crew. 2. you can enslave the reapers but in the process you must die and become part of a computer programme. Or 3. and the one I found most interesting synthesis you can convert the entire galaxy into part organic and part synthetic in essence turning everybody into cyborgs. This is described  as the perfect resolution and the final stage of evolution. I found this particularly interesting as it is the first time i have heard of the post human as the next and final stage of evolution. The question of ethics in converting everybody to a cyborg is not brought up which I find particularly strange this choice also turns all robots into part organic making them alive and aware. I find this plot twist fascinating and the idea of synthesis as the next stage of evolution an extremely strange, quite possibly true and definitely terrifying idea. Here’s the video below for better understanding go from about 6.30 in for more of an explanation also check out the robotic green eyes, uncanny!

But yeah i thought this was an interested and very geeky example of the idea of the possible future of robots and possible future of humanity.


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