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Blade runner and ethical issues
The premise of Blade Runner is that the earth has fallen under the curtain of radioactive dust, and the dust has killed off many species of common animals, causing the planet to be generally inhabitable. Due to this, humans have to emigrate to mars and other colonized world. In parallel to Gattaca, humans are required to pass a certain IQ test to be eligible for the colonies, and those that fail the test, must stay behind on earth. These humans are known as 'chicken heads' or specials, and are the fallen in the quest for intergalactic supremacy.
Androids are the main crux in the storyline of Blade Runner. In the storyline, the androids are first established as servants to humans, assisting in their daily endeavors and other menial tasks, to reflect how technology is meant to serve us. Being subject to such menial labor over and over again, a group of Nexus-6 super androids broke free from the system and managed to escape to earth. These androids posed a major threat to society on earth, and a bounty hunter, Rick Deckard was called in to elucidate and solve the situation. The androids in this case, escaped lives of mining and household servitude to pass off as opera singers, models, and policeman- in short, much better lives. The androids were trying to aim for a better purpose of life.
A unique theme in the story of Blade runner is its creation of electric animals. With the mass extinction of animals around the world, the price for animals rose to astronomical calculations (literally) with spiders costing US $100 or more. This has led to the call for electric animals, as animals were seen as status symbols. Owning an animal represented your wealth, and your prosperity. This raises an interesting parallel. Humans before the radioactive fallout used to covet and campaign for animals that resembled human life. Now, human beings want to replicate and protect animals that are so unlike themselves, while treating androids with disdain and repulsion. Blade runner can be seen as an elaborate continuation of the plot line from Stephen Spielberg's AI, in that bounty hunters are deployed to hound the androids that escape, and present a 'menace' to human society.
Ironically, the androids, rather than menacing society, are actually doing it a service, as seen from Luba Luft's performance as a world renowned opera-singer. Even Rick faces the impossible dilemma whether or not to end her life when the time really came, long enough for another bounty hunter to shoot her instead. This alludes to the debate over “human identity" in bio-ethics, an issue the film has captured most excellently. In order to discover replicants, an empathy test is used with a number of questions focused on the treatment of animals, thus making it the essential indicator one "humanity". Yet, the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal while the replicants display compassion for each other, leading to the impression that Humans have discarded their humanity in favour of technological progress. This is also highlighted from the initial setting of the story, in which humanity decides to phase life over to mars and to terraform the planet, instead of staying loyal to Earth. In fact, the film goes so far as to inject ambiguity to whether Deckart himself is a replicant, highlighting that the moral complexity of creating machines that function exactly like humans.
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Blade Runner represents human society at its most evolved and devolved. Humans mature in technology, but they do not develop the means and the capabilities to control and govern the social problems that come with the creation and responsibilities that the androids pose.
Athlete Oscar Pistorius, known as the fastest man with artificial limbs, is also nicknamed the Blade Runner.
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