Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 sequel to the 1982 movie Blade Runner, about a world in which some human-looking replicants have become dangerous, so that other human-looking replicants, as well as humans, have the job of hunting down the dangerous models and "retiring" (destroying) them. Both films have been widely hailed as among the greatest science-fiction movies of all time, and Ridley Scott, director of the original Blade Runner, has announced that there will be a third Blade Runner movie.Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy is a collection of entertaining articles on both Blade Runner movies (and on the spin-off short films and Blade Runner novels) by twenty philosophers representing diverse backgrounds and philosophical perspectives. Among the issues addressed in the book:What does Blade Runner 2049 tell us about the interactions of state power and corporate power? Can machines ever become truly conscious, or will they always lack some essential human qualities? The most popular theory of personhood says that a person is defined by their memories, so what happens when memories can be manufactured and inserted at will? We already interact with non-human decision-makers via the Internet. When embodied AI becomes reality, how can we know what is human and what is simulation? Does it matter? Do AI-endowed human-looking replicants have civil and political rights, or can they be destroyed whenever "real" humans decide they are inconvenient? The blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) appears in both movies, and is generally assumed to be human, but some claim he may be a replicant. What's the evidence on both sides? Is Niander Wallace (the-mad-scientist-cum-evil-corporate-CEO in Blade Runner 2049) himself a replicant? What motivates him? What are the impacts of decision-making AI entities on the world of business? Both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 have been praised for their hauntingly beautiful depictions of a bleak future, but the two futures are very different (and the 2019 future imagined in the original Blade Runner is considerably different from the actual world of 2019). How have our expectations and visions of the future changed between the two movies? The "dream maker" character Ana Stelline in Blade Runner 2049 has a small but pivotal role. What are the implications of a person whose dedicated mission and task is to invent and install false memories? What are the social and psychological implications of human-AI sexual relations?
Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy Review
- January 1, 1970Tamara WilhiteThe book “Bladerunner 2049 and Philosophy” contains 28 chapters by various philosophers, professors and scholars, a fair number of whom are science fiction fans as well. I’m a science fiction fan as well as a science fiction author, so reviewing this book for the publisher was a fun exercise for me. There are several sections to the book, each containing a couple of essays focused on the same theme. The first chapter is focused on what makes you human. Are Joi, K or replicants in general human? The book “Bladerunner 2049 and Philosophy” contains 28 chapters by various philosophers, professors and scholars, a fair number of whom are science fiction fans as well. I’m a science fiction fan as well as a science fiction author, so reviewing this book for the publisher was a fun exercise for me. There are several sections to the book, each containing a couple of essays focused on the same theme. The first chapter is focused on what makes you human. Are Joi, K or replicants in general human? What definition do you use? If they aren’t human, what about the dehumanized people who inhabit their world? There are conflicting answers as to whether Joi is human, a person, or a moral agent – and these are not all the same thing. There are essays trying to determine if K and Joi’s relationship is real/authentic though they themselves may not be considered such. What makes them real, if they are? And how is the term real used throughout the Bladerunner franchise? The second section of the book discusses the ethics of genetic engineering, designer babies, the creation of replicants, and the ethics of AI. Is an AI a person, a moral agent and sentient? What makes them so when they don’t have physical bodies? Can Joi even be counted as being in a relationship with K, another artificial entity whose “humanity” or post-humanity may be established by Rachel having had a child? The section titled “Cells Interlinked” analyzes the character of Niander Wallace more than once, while other chapters analyze the phenomenology of replicants and how they challenge our concept of identity. The section “The Kingdom of God” analyzes the religious terminology, religious appropriation and Christ-like characters in the book. Rachel’s child, for example, is seen as the born messiah to save the replicants from their oppression by proving they are capable of the miracle of life and, possibly, have souls like humans. The serious God complex in Niander Wallace is discussed and compared to everything from the Demiurge of Gnosticism to the classic fallen angel Satan. He even wants to raise a greater army of fallen angels to storm heaven! Section 5, “A real girl now?”, contains a variety of essays. Is Joi human/moral/female? How does her identity affect what it means to be human or a woman? How does the removal of Rachel from the story except for increasingly abstract forms impact the story and our view of women? This section starts to fall into identity politics and far-left dogma. The final quarter of the book is the most disappointing. There are two chapters best described as Communist/social justice apology pieces. Two more chapters falsely equate illegal immigrants with enslaved replicants, while one of these doubles down and equates illegal immigrant laborers with African slavery, too. Replicants are equivalent to enslaved Africans 200 years ago but not anyone today barring Yazidi and Christian sex slaves held by Muslim fundamentalists. The publisher needs some ideological diversity to balance out the far left politics here and the inbred worldview that is both repetitive and irrational to an extreme. Only chapter 26 has a balanced, interesting approach in comparing replicants to an oppressed ethnic minority, though it conflates current equal conditions to historical oppression, undermining the political groups the author elevates to be beyond question or dispute. (And conveniently ignores the BLM murderer who killed several Dallas cops. If they’d remained in the realm of pure theory in debating whether replicants could count as an ethnic group and whether AI could count as human, it would have been a decent chapter. I'd give the book five stars if not for the final chapters. Four stars for this installment of the "And Philosophy" series.more
- January 1, 1970M.J. Ryder
- January 1, 1970M. Wilson
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