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Detroit: Become Human, released on May 25, 2018, is a video game based off of a short film that was made back in 2012 called “Kara.”
This short film took place in what could’ve been assumed to be a factory of some sorts. The camera focused mainly on a machine with various arms and what it was putting together. A seemingly human-looking head could be seen but below were mechanical parts. As these large arms began to assemble this machine, a voice could be heard from behind the camera. He began to ask the robot questions as she was being put together. He told her her name, asked her what her model is and her duties, features. This android didn't seem to know much else.
She asked what her name was, and he gave it to her.
However, as Kara is being instructed to move her head, her arms, it’s becoming apparent she’s realizing what she is. Once her assembly is over, the director notes she will be taken with the “others” to be sold. Kara grows confused and asks why. The man behind the camera simply states she’s a machine and nothing more. Kara takes a second look and utters out:
“But I thought—"
He mimics her, sudden panic in his voice once he realizes Kara is self-aware, more so than she should be. He then orders for her to be taken apart so they could search her programming. Kara becomes frightened, begging and pleading because she was just born; how could they? She thought she was alive and as a soon as she yells out, “I’m scared!” the arms stop, pause, and put her together again, and she is sent back with the other androids to be sold.
Now, Detroit: Become Human follows the same principles, the same pattern: stories of androids that were previously oblivious to their capabilities.
The most powerful example is an android named Markus. He served an elderly artist who treated him well, unlike other android owners. This sparked something in him to take charge, to help his “people” escape and be free.
This topic, these stories, can raise so many questions. Artificial intelligence is still something quite new in our current decade, but what will it become later on? Could we end up like Detroit? The humans in this video game treated androids like they were heathens. It was almost similar to some kind of race issue: segregation, a general hatred, and disrespect because humans were losing their jobs to androids. It reminded me of the real race issues some of us face today.
The androids of Detroit were mainly designed to please people, definitely in more ways than one. But when mistreated? Pushed over the edge? That’s where deviancy comes in.
Many of these deviants, like Markus, had good intentions. Even Kara, for that matter. And however Connor ended up was the players choice. Once their programming was broken into, that’s the moment these androids realize they’re more than just a machine, when they can feel for one another and grow angry when a human belittles them.
It spun out into an entire revolution, a race war. Markus had become a modern Moses, if you will. I myself am not religious, but his courage and devotion to his own kind was so powerful.
I personally have no intentions of finding how far our own progress with artificial intelligence will grow. There is a lot of good that could come with them and a lot of bad.
Androids, who don’t have much emotion, would definitely be useful for taking care of an elderly person or helping out a small family that needs to make ends meet, just an extra set of hands that doesn’t get tired and doesn’t mind its work. But then there could be the issue of parents depending on the android, and only the android, to raise their kids, busy or not—as sad as that may sound.
And child-models of these androids could assist parents who were never able to have their own. But, again, a robot technically isn’t a lifetime commitment—even if it’s meant to be your child. Detroit even pointed out some of these issues.
And how would we treat them? Would we be nice, fair? Or cruel? Would it be an entirely new racial issue?
I’m sure many of you have fears of robots and AIs breaking loose. All of it is unpredictable, and no one knows exactly what could happen. That’s why I love this game so much, not only does it touch on real issues, but it makes you really wonder “what if this was real?”