Re: [gundam][OT] The Matrix the deep philosophical debate!


Mark Simmons (scorpio@best.com)
Thu, 8 Apr 1999 16:24:09 -0700


Probe writes,

> Heh heh. The solution: "Don't write stories focused on the technology!"

  But on the other hand, if you omit the high-tech aspect entirely, you end
up with exactly the conversation we're having now - i.e. why no VR in
Gundam? perhaps the best bet is to skip the near future and set things in
the distant future/distant past/an alternate universe so that you can set
your own technological rules.

  Tomino tried to cover some of his bases, using Minovsky physics to
eliminate some kinds of detection & targeting technology, and the Antarctic
Treaty to get rid of certain types of weapons, but a third deus ex machine
would be required to get rid of modern communications technology. Ideally
you'd have a scenario that banned radar, nukes, VR, and every other
post-World War I technological innovation. <grin>

> Right now we already have fighter-aircraft linked into VR-headsets to
>allow pilots to control them remotely, expert systems that can take off
>and land fighters and recon aircraft as well as fight with them, etc etc.
>Hell, even the DCX-SSTO spacecraft was designed to be piloted from the
>ground with a VR headset.

  Putting aside my reflexive skepticism that this stuff really works as
advertised (unlike, say, stealth fighters that don't work in the rain!),
there's always the Minovsky gotcha. And a second notion occurs to me: Past
a certain price point, how valuable is the trained operator versus the
machine itself? Take the $2 billion B-2 bomber, for example. If I were
designing that thing, I'd tear out the ejection seats to make sure the
pilot had maximum incentive to keep the stupid thing in one piece!

> If anything like a mecha existed of _course_ it would have a VR
>interface. A better question is: "Would every car, bus, and plane in the
>entire UC universe be controlled by expert systems or telepresence?" I
>would posit that in fact this is the way things will be within 30 years.

  Fair enough. In a world without the Minovsky gotcha, let's say that
everything from planes to robot infantry could be remote-controlled by
human telepresence operators and/or AI systems... in fact, you could run
things like a strategy game, directing your AI-controlled minions at a
macro level and then taking control of individual units for hands-on
micromanagement (much like Dorothy mass-controlling mobile dolls at the end
of Gundam W). In this scenario, infantry and tanks would be replaced by
remote-controlled robots, and a blurring of the lines might give you a
fusion of the two - a tank-sized trooper, essentially a remote-controlled
Scopedog.

  How's that for a VR/mecha fusion?

>> The contrast between a "false" world of high-tech drama and a "true"
>> world of slavery and spiritual crisis could make for a great
>> bait-and-switch along the lines of Evangelion...
>
> Yeah, it's a nice idea, but it's been done before. I think "Outer
>Limits" had several episodes based on just this sort of thing. Of course,
>there's always "Total Recall" too!

  I don't mean a simple head game regarding what's real and what isn't, but
a scenario where a complex, diverting forground plot is revealed to be an
illusion to distract the participants from a cruder, uglier, underlying
struggle. Think Philip K. Dick's last few books, selected John Carrol
novels, or, for that matter, The Matrix...

> It's the defects in the human flesh causing the problem. Our brains are
>easily overloaded

  Actually, I see there's an ongoing research project to try and determine
whether some people are more likely to experience these symptoms than
others; if so, the goal is to work up a procedure for identifying those who
are constitutionally "allergic" to VR. The very notion suggests a sort of
two-tiered society, not unlike that of Gattaca. Combine it with the
robot-armies scenario, and you have a guerilla war between VR-deprived
rebels and the telepresent elites! :-)

-- Mark

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Mark Simmons <mailto:scorpio@best.com>
MacAddict: the magazine! <http://www.macaddict.com/>
Gundam: the Project! <http://gundam.anime.net/>
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