The first episode of the fourth season in the dystopian anthology Netflix series Black Mirror hits a nerve for me. Having had traditionally masculine interests and hobbies, as a woman, I must unfortunately admit to having been a misogynist well into my early twenties. That said, as a recovering former misogynist; toxic fandom, and the male power fantasy are phenomena I am all too familiar with…
Pop culture constantly reminds us and we are certainly made aware of concepts like; the friendzone, blue balls, and nice guys finish last, but respectively the lesser spoken about side of those coins are the soul crushing experience of abruptly losing a conceived long-term-friendship when the “friendzoned friend” loses interest or sets himself up for rejection, the normalization of women not having orgasms, and the fact that if someone is acting nicely expecting to collect points they will then be entitled to trade in for a reward… I think we need to re-establish a common definition of “nice”.
Our anti-hero Robert Daly is in my opinion a classic incarnation of the archetype “unappreciated, self-appointed nice guy”. Although, I will indulge the storyline by acknowledging that his colleagues indeed do not treat him with warmth or respect, he does not seem to be making much of an effort to have meaningful encounters or taking interest in other people’s lives or needs. This may well be tainted by my bias filling in some blanks, but it seems to me that he is socially immature, self-centred, and bitter.
While I struggle to settle on whether I think the “clones” deserve mercy or empathy I feel that Daly’s treatment of them speaks loudly towards his inner person and inauthenticity of niceness. Any shadow of doubt is then abolished by the way he acts with the deliveryman because I believe there is no easier way to tell someone’s true personality than by the way they conduct themselves in contacts without consequences or obvious gain. By that I mean such as with subordinates, animals, children, the less fortunate, etc.
Figure 1: Scene from the original GTA ca 1997
To elaborate on my indecisiveness towards the clones, my main dilemma is about whether they truly are sentient beings or merely complex and exact logs of the humans they look like. A program can easily be programmed to mimic feelings but at what point does a program become a person?
I am very open towards counter arguments on the matter, but my current stance is that they are simply extremely realistically looking ones and zeros. Though torturing humanoids sounds disturbing to us and may well be an indicator of unwholesome ethics, is it really any different to removing the stairs from the pool while a Sims-character is enjoying a swim? Or when you get all your monks lined up neatly for a combo?
We already have the technology to 3D scan whole environments for computer games, should virtual vandalism be punishable?
How realistic must something seem in order for it to be deemed off limits?
Höfundur: Inga Ingólfsdóttir nemandi við Háskólann í Reykjavík
Leita í vefútgáfu Tölvumála
Tölvumál - tímarit Skýrslutæknifélags Íslands er óháð tímarit um tölvutækni og hefur verið gefið út frá árinu 1976.
Vefútgáfa Tölvumála birtir vikulega nýja grein á vef Ský og árlega er gefið út veglegt prentað tímarit undir nafninu "Tölvumál" þar sem fjallað er um tölvutækni frá ýmsum sjónarhornum og er þema blaðsins jafnan valið snemma árs og útgáfa að hausti.
Ritnefnd Ský sér um að afla efni í Tölvumál og geta allir sem áhuga hafa sent inn efni.