Sunday, 3 June 2012

Robots and Aliens: The Reviews

I don't think I'm very good at writing reviews. And moreover there is nothing to recommend on the antinatalist end, or rather, there is nothing I can recommend given that I do a lot of mindless things. I'm not very high culture, and I don't particularly care. Well, I sort of do, but it's more in a "Hey maybe I could be like you guys and we could be friends" sort of caring, not a "I must be like this and will spend every moment of my day pretending that I am high culture until I become that way" sort of caring. I don't hate high culture things. I like reading old literature. I just play video games a hell of a lot more than I do that. Video games = instant rewards, as long as you put in the effort. Ancient Literature = a lot of effort for more long term rewards. My hamster brain can't fathom doing anything for anything but instant gratification, but sometimes I find myself veering off into the dark corners of my mind and reading things that are 'high culture'. In any case, on with the reviews..

District 9 is a standard Disney story about why you shouldn't be a prejudiced jerk when it comes to people who are different from you. The protagonist - neither hero nor antihero, but simply, a human, with all the realistic emotions associated with human beings, follows the standard protagonist not respectful of group, protagonist is in some way attached to group, protagonist and group member share common goal, end up saving each other's lives, and become friends (sort of in this case).

This is nothing new. It is not, you see, what the story was. It is HOW INSANELY BRILLIANTLY IT WAS EXECUTED. I cannot express to you enough how much I loved this. It broke through the anhedonia barrier and the depersonalisation barrier for me. It was just an incredible experience, full of incredibly realistic interactions between humans and aliens - or at least, that's the way it seems to me. There is one part that's a bit stupid, but was pretty necessary for the plot. I'm not spoiling it for you, so if you want to know what it was, just email me or whatever.

I've also been reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and I'm finding it pretty great so far. These classic sci-fi writers tend to have had seriously powerful imaginations, and it really shows here. You find yourself questioning who is an android and who isn't, and whether that really matters for the most part. What's the difference between an android and a sociopath? We won't know until we figure out what consciousness is. Maybe Roger Penrose is right and it's something to do with quantum physics - maybe computation alone just doesn't cut it. Or maybe computation DOES cut it and we are on the verge of creating a sentient being by mistake (which is okay antinatalists because it won't suffer - consent not violated as no true consent is involved where there is no suffering.) I don't know, so I'm not going to speculate much.

Also on robots, I've been playing a lot of the classic Megaman games. God, they're great. They take escapism to a whole new level once you aren't so annoyed at dying so much - the worlds you go through are just fantastic. It's strange how it's taken for granted that Megaman (or Rockman if you're Japanese) himself is sentient and loves justice. He isn't a cyborg - he's fully robotic. Always has been, always will be. Which is a strange move by game designers. Putting sentience in a robot so it can do chores for you or kill the robots who do chores for you badly isn't bad because no suffering occurs at all because of that. But Megaman and his robotic brethren have actual emotions, I think. Megaman is a murderer by commission. He doesn't try to talk his brothers down to stop them rebelling against humans, and he doesn't question why he always follows orders, he just kills them. It is not right to create Megaman, by the way. Robots with emotions and sentience that do stuff for us...or else? That's downright slavery. This entire video game series is about a high level slave going around killing the slaves who start rebellions. And I still can't bring myself to stop playing each game multiple times.


  1. I agree with you about robots. If we ever did develop robots that were just like humans, in the sense that they were aware of their existence and could feel emotions and pain, the right thing to do would be to give them the same rights as human beings. But just like the problems with creating another human, creating a sentient robot that had human emotions and pains would be wrong.

  2. Don't take this as a criticism, I'm just curious. If you are truly anhedonic and depersonalised, how can you 'look forward', 'LOVE', 'enjoy' all the things you do? This doesn't make sense. I enjoy your posts but find the contradiction inherent here difficult to overcome. Can you please explain?

  3. Oh that's simple. I still understand intellectually how good something is. It's like my sense of taste has been replaced by a description of the chemicals making up my food, if that makes sense. I can't 'enjoy' anything, but there aren't any words in the English language that allow me to express intellectual knowledge that something is good despite feeling absolutely nothing. Not true for District 9, however, that actually did break through my 'Anhedonia Barrier' a little, as I call it.

    I don't exactly look forward to anything except death to be honest with you. I do get urges sometimes to do things, but I know deep down they won't bring anything.

    The main problem I have as you've seen is that I don't have a depressed mindset anymore, but I do suffer from a lack of pleasure. So these things don't match each other, resulting in my writing seeming contradictory, as you say. Oh and, sorry I didn't mention this before, but a strange loophole to my anhedonia is that my memories are not, NOT, anhedonic entirely, so even if I felt no pleasure during something, I can still feel a tiny bit remembering about it. Hence why I can write things like this. Thanks for the comment!