Would you, as a human being, enter a relationship with an android (if it were as real as us)? Would you trust an android with your children? Do you believe technology to be a potential threat to mankind?
With its release a mere month ago, Detroit: Become Human gained instant recognition and fame. If you haven’t played the game yet, I must warn you that this article will contain spoilers.
Thoughts And Reflections On Detroit: Become Human
In Detroit: Become Human, we follow the three protagonists Markus, Kara, and Connor. Categorized as “Deviants,” an error in their program allows them to stray from their given tasks, becoming autonomous individuals. They each have their very own personality and unique way of interacting with things, creating three very different stories that eventually intertwine.
The game offers some of the best interactive gameplay and storytelling I’ve experienced in a while, and I was very hesitant to let these androids go when the game was done because I had grown so attached to them. Following their story was much more engaging than I would have imagined, and I genuinely care about each of the protagonists. However, should I feel conflicted that I feel empathy and care for these androids, machines made to serve us?
I want to shed some light on a different character in Detroit: Become Human. One that surprised me with her presence and unexpected “conversation”. Serving as Elijah Kamski’s servant (the guy who created androids), Chloe is the first female android to pass the Turing Test, a psychological test that checks if a machine may possess the abilities to demonstrate intelligent behaviour equal to a human being.
But that is not what fascinates me. The fact that she was displayed on the menu-screen, she was the first face I met when I entered the game, and the last when I was exiting. She went from being formal, robot-like in her speech and attitude, to becoming a sentient being, commenting and questioning the choices I had made in the game. Even though our meeting with her in-game was brief, Chloe was a character that I continually looked forward to seeing again. Because she was unpredictable. When at one point she asked “are we friends?” my jaw dropped by surprise. I said yes. Yes, we were friends.
After she asked that question it was interesting to just sit there and observe her reaction. When it became clear that she was paying attention to the choices I made in the game, and even giving her own opinions on them, she gradually realized just how much of a self-thinking individual she is. As soon as she realized that she had said something that was outside of her program, her gaze became gradually more unfocused, and her facial expression turned into uncertainty and doubt… and sometimes fear?
These small, yet intriguing interactions with Chloe made me just sit on the menu for several minutes to wait and see if she said something else. That is how involved I got.
The incredibly hostile attitude of the human beings in the game is not necessarily a way that I would have reacted myself, even though I can, in some ways, understand the panic. Some don’t even render it a discussion, because it is easy to just discard the thought as “ridiculous,” and just throw it away.
Aren’t these androids a product of our own mistakes? Will humanity fall by their own hands?
Historically speaking, Homo Sapiens, that’s us, get most of the blame for the extinction of several animal species, including different human species. Being the remaining Sapiens, we are used to being on top of the world. We are used to being the only creatures being able to converse and develop our language as complex as we do.
Many people are afraid of technology going too far; but when is it too far? Take for example Sophia the Robot, the first robot to gain a citizenship in Saudi Arabia, a country that only recently allowed women to drive. Even though Sophia is not nearly as lifelike as the ones in Detroit: Become Human, I think my point still stands. At this rate, the idea of our creations becoming autonomous seems to be a more and more relevant topic of discussion.
Are the androids simply a projection of who we want to be?
The game developers have made sure to portray the androids as “better than us,” both morally and physically, and that may be why the thought of them becoming sentient beings scares us. However, these are all existential questions that might never be answered, but I think it’s fun to contemplate them now and again, anyway.
Detroit: Become Human is a game that discusses these issues thoroughly and, in my opinion, pretty convincingly.