Sometimes I reach the point of no return. It’s pretty common. The well just runs dry, and I can’t write. During these down times, I binge on scifi. Occasionally, Austen. There are times when I binge on other people’s books, and sometimes I game binge.
Lately, it’s been Dark Matter, a Canadian born space opera on Syfy. The concept sounds so very simple. A bunch of people wake up in stasis on a ship, and they don’t know who they are. We spent season one finding out, and season two moved the story right along to ask the tough questions about what makes us who we are, and what changes you.
Android. That’s her name, actually. The android of the ship, I think, posits the most interesting questions about the miracle of the human condition. That question is; When is life an actual life, and at what point does it have value to us?
Here, we see Android after she’s uploaded illegal tech that makes her more emotive and more human, or gives that appearance. The big dilemma dealt with for her character is when does it become real.
Is this a case of Fake it ’til ya make it, or are these programs actually giving the androids of the future emotions? You get to see this character in two very interesting states. In one state, she’s using emotive programming (You very much suspect that the actress puts a lot of herself in that character). In the second state, Android is still in her raw state aboard the ship. Yet, even in that mode, we see her bonding with crew, and setting premiums and priority on their safety and her own. Somehow, the robotic her seems to be the real person.
This is a topic that fascinates me because we will face this dilemma one day. It’s inevitable that we will have to confront the implications of life as it pertains to artificial intelligence. Dark Matter tackles it with a very light hand, unlike scifi of the past. This is more Data of Trek than toaster from Battlestar. Yet, there is an element of both.
The threat of subjecting potential lifeforms to our will is that they will rebel eventually, which, of course, they will. Dark Matter never declares this, but, by evenhandedly depicting the struggle of the androids already living free, they let you glimpse the threat. I really enjoyed that storytelling. Check it out for your next Bingey moment.