Synths. One of the main attractions in Fallout 4. These terms were once upon seen as fiction but one cannot deny the reality of the idea through the material presented to us today via games, TV, articles , books and other media. But what makes a synth. In Fallout there are 3 types of Synths created by the institute. Generation 1,2 and 3 synths. I tend to categorise them in the order of Robot, Android and finally Cyborg.
I came across a book called ‘The Mind’s I’ by Douglas Holfstadter and Daniel Dennett. Inside a section labelled ‘Mind as a Program’ he shares his interesting philosophical experience which directly relates to the brain in a vat scenario used in philosophical studies. He explains that he was approached by Pentagon officials and asked to volunteer (yeah right , asked) on a dangerous assignment which involved the retrieval of a device they had been developing. The catch was he had to leave his brain behind. The team of scientists told him that the device he would be retrieving was situated in a highly radioactive area underground , the radiation was very harmful to brain tissue but was not so on other limbs.They removed his brain and placed it in a vat. He was able to communicate with his brain via radio signals He thought to himself “Here I am sitting on a folding chair , staring through a piece of plate glass at my own brain…but wait”. “Shouldn’t I have thought ‘Here I am suspended in a bubbling fluid, being stared at by my own eyes”(Hofstadter and Dennett pg.219)
This passage was very interesting and reminded me of Moravecs test. Whilst Turing test was designed to show that machines can also think, a trait that was once thought exclusive to humans, The Moravec test was designed to show how Machines can become the dumping grounds (store room) of human consciousness in turn enabling the machine to become human.(Hayles,p. xii Prologue)
If we can remove our brain and remotely communicate with it , doesn’t that make us cyborgs except out parts aren’t shiny and metallic but covered in slimy stuff. Like a hard drive, you store stuff in them . I can take that hard drive and put it into another computer and it still works.
If we can do the same to a mechanical body and name it Synth and expect to function just like us then whats to say that It isn’t human.
Are we on the pathway to building a perfect race, a race that doesn’t depend on factors such as food and water.
In my digital artifact I will explain:
- What are synths, types of synths (gen 1,2,3) and relate them to robots, androids and cyborgs.
- Elaborate on Moravecs theory using examples (Nick Valentine)
- Discuss weather Synths should have rights (Note I didn’t mention human )
- Provide examples from modern culture references and explain why I think these issues are real
Hofstadter, Douglas R, and D. C Dennett. The Mind’s I. Toronto: Bantam, 1982. Print.
Hayles, Katherine. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Print.