Replicating the Human

The heart of the drama in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) is the heart of the discussion we have been having in class, the conversation between the human and the posthuman. The titular bounty hunters make it their mission to hunt down and kill rogue Replicant androids, and they do this by administering tests to verify humanity. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is employed under the law to keep the boundary between the human and the nonhuman distinctly separate, but as Hayles reminds us, once you are sitting with the machine in the Turing Test, you’ve already become posthuman.

Through the dystopian cyberpunk future Los Angeles the film offers a rich presentation of the posthuman, capturing so many of the fears, philosophies, and visceral images of the subject. My paper will contextualize the posthuman study in the world of the film, and will focus on how Deckard confronts the posthuman in his trials along the neon lit city sprawl. Consistently the human is linked with empathy; the focus of the film and the paper exists equally between Deckard’s interaction with his love interest Rachael (Sean Young), the leader of the Nexus 6 Replicant fugitives Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), and the larger societal struggle of human versus other as the line between human and nonhuman bursts at the seams. The work of the paper will be to deconstruct the segregated world of Blade Runner and pull out the posthuman narrative being told, and fit the definition of the human therein with the themes of our class.

10/4 Yod: Yea or Nay

Graham reminds us in Chapter 4 that a common, traditional Jewish reading of the Golem story is that the moral comes from the Golem’s defectiveness, humans must know that “while created in the likeness of God – possessing reason, speech and creative agency – humanity can never fully achieve the creation of life.” (89) We have been with Yod essentially from the start of his life to the end, have Malkah, Avram, and Shira achieved creation? How does Piercy interact with the traditional moral?

9/22 Graham and Soul

In our assigned chapter Graham reintroduces a common criticism against human like A.I., “that it cannot simulate emotion, intuition, instinct, imagination or innovation: that, in brief, a computer lacks ‘soul’.”(Graham 127) What examples in our texts and media so far advance or refute this critique?

Class Warfare in Elysium 9/20

How does the class warfare in Elysium manifest? More specifically, what are the characteristics of each class and how are Posthuman philosophies and technologies employed in the society? In some of our texts and films we have seen this joint theme of economics and Posthumanity, and Hayles points out in our chapter “These visions of self-regulating economic and political systems produced a complementary notion of the liberal self as an autonomous, self-regulating subject” (86) addressing how the two schools of thought have been joined from the start.