• March 2, 2019, 1:33 p.m.

    I know this forum is yet to find its feet on what is and isn't allowed so I thought perhaps I'll post here and if mods want to move it elsewhere that's fine too.

    I just finished seeing Orville's Identity part 2. For those that don't know the Orville, it is essentially now the replacement for what Star Trek used to be. BTW- spoiler alert.

    Identity 1 was a great episode, for many reasons. But the main one for me was the questions raised about our tendency to readily Anthropomorphise objects. Isaac, the ship's robot, was being seen by all the human (and non-human) crew as a person, and his blank features seemed to accentuate the fact that we can write any impression of what we think he is on his face.

    The episode was great because after know Isaac for so long, where we see crew members treat him as a person, Claire even falls in love with him, in the end he was programmed to betray all in a reasonably logical motive to eliminate all biological life, and it called into question all our thoughts up to that point - Am I guilty of thinking Isaac was a person, entitled to emotion and compassion? What is he, if not what we thought he was? I found myself rerunning old episodes to observe Isaac's interaction with the crew, and suddenly all was cast in a sinister light. Yes he commonly viewed himself as superior intelligence (the crew laughed and assumed it was Vanity) or commented on the failings of his fellow officers (some call it Pride) but in the end these were emotions we projected on to him, he was always what I thought him to be, and I don't know how else to think of him.

    Superman (the old 1978 film) was a great movie because it explored a similar theme - this time from Lois Lane's point of view: She fell in love with... what? There was a scene in the middle of the movie where we are suddenly privy to her inner thoughts, yearning or hoping he was what she thought he was (or that he would notice her). This was pivotal as we suddenly realised then that the movie was not about Superman at all (even though he is the star) but actually about what Lois Lane's reality was. It calls into focus the bigger question we all face: Do we really know what is real? When we love someone, what do we love? Are we actually seeing what our minds (and heart) wants to see, and it is not possible to see any other way?

    Identity 2 resolved the issues opened so intriguingly in a rather perfunctory manner - I did not think it nearly as successful as Identity 1 because I believe the question cannot be answered as it goes right to the heart of being ourselves in the universe, and seeing it as a microcosm of ourself. In fact, the solution in Identity 2 was that the robots were angry at being mistreated by their makers, however this sidesteps the issue and actually applies an emotion (hate) to logic, which is destroying exactly the point Identity 1 was trying to make. Space battle and all, I almost wanted Isaac to continue to be emotionless, as well as his fellow robots, to explore this further (but I suppose the 'TV Show' can only go so far before it must resort to expected tropes).

    So - this thread is mainly then about then: Consciousness and being in this body and viewing the universe. I am here in this body - can I truly know someone? Can you? Does it make it impossible to view the universe from a single point of view (a human point of view) meaning we cannot truly know someone, or something, as we are viewing it only through our eyes, and the very act of observation must be done in the context of human meaning (for example, emotion)? Ie, Isaac is a robot, no more than a bunch of atoms, yet we look at him with meaning, hope, fear, expectation, all the emotions we have - we 'see' him, whether real or not - and do you think you could view him in any other way?

  • Moderator
    March 3, 2019, 12:21 a.m.

    This has no easy answer, since we don't really know enough about consciousness. My take on it is that consciouness is an illusion generated by matter self-percieving itself and we might never know unless we can quantify consciouness into an equation and therefore measure it, but that is just me from a biophysical perspective.

    Here is an interesting video on the topic: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6SKpSX9_3c