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Blade Runner - according the AI

By Bruce Barbour and ChatGPT (and a myriad of other unacknowledged people that ChatGPT "borrowed" information and style from) - February 2023

This is a second article about ChatGPT. Read the earlier article on Climate Change here.

* * * * *

We have all heard about artificial intelligence (AI) and in particular one of its pre-incarnations - ChatGPT. I thought I would give it a try to see what it "thought" about the movie "Blade Runner", one of my favourite movies. That "conversation" is below.

My impressions. Pretty impressive. At the same time a bit scary.

If I didn't know it was written by a piece of software I would have thought it was written by a human. It has a naturalistic conversational style. But at the same time very cool, lacking emotion.

It was scary as you can see the potential to take over some jobs. Copy writers for example. It appears that it would be able to write a background piece on a person or company. It would be able to write say an obituary of a well known person. I can see it being able to write whole online news sites by simply taking the work of a number of other news sites on a topic and writing its own version - not copying and pasting but rewriting. Does the human based rule "take the work of one person and its plagiarism, take the work of multiple people and its good research" apply to software systems? It mustn't. This could be devastating to online journalism. As big as the impact of the birth of the internet was on the business model of newspapers. The problem is that the system is not doing any original research. It is not getting any scoops. Asking the hard questions. And if online news sites - with journalists - loose readers to the auto generated site who is going to pay for the original research. Politicians need to get on top of this. Once it is commercialised - I understand that it is going to be incorporated into the Bing seach engine - blocking software needs to be developed and funding models worked out to pay the authors for their original research and writing. And if for example it is using Wikipedia as an information payments should be made to that organisation to support its operations.

If it does become part of the Bing search engine it should be required to provide a list of its sources for the information it provides - to enable the user to check and also to do more research as well.

Another issue that I can see is that if it in part or wholly replaces traditional search engines it would cut out a lot of information sources and a lot of diversity of views. A search engine typically provides lists of thousands of hits. While the further you get down the list the less likely the hit will provide the information sought it is not uncommon to find the information on say the third page of the search results. Would that be able to be found via a ChatGPT interrogation? So while I see ChatGPT as being a tool it should not replace the traditional search - not at least until the technology is even further advanced.

I can see why educators are concerned. They have to rethink how they teach and assess students' education. Using the tool a student wouldn't have to have read the book - just ask ChatGPT for a book review. Of course if the whole class did that you think it would be readily apparent to the teacher. But it could also be a good tool for education. But it might replace some teachers!

So many issues to be resolved. Anyway:

The "Conversation":

18 February 2023.

Bruce: What is your favorite science fiction movie?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don't have personal preferences or feelings like humans do, so I don't have a favorite science fiction movie. However, there are many great science fiction movies that explore fascinating concepts and ideas, such as "Blade Runner", "The Matrix", "Interstellar", "2001: A Space Odyssey", and "Inception".

Bruce: Please provide an outline of the story of the movie "Blade Runner".

ChatGPT: "Blade Runner" is a classic science fiction movie from 1982, directed by Ridley Scott and loosely based on the novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick. The film is set in a dystopian future where synthetic humans called "replicants" are used for dangerous or menial work off-world. The story follows Rick Deckard, a retired police officer or "blade runner," who is forced to return to duty to hunt down a group of replicants who have escaped to Earth and are hiding in Los Angeles.

Here is a rough outline of the story:

  • The film opens with an aerial shot of a futuristic city, where we see a police vehicle flying over the buildings.
  • Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired blade runner who is recruited by his former boss to hunt down a group of replicants who have escaped from an off-world colony and are hiding in Los Angeles.
  • Deckard's mission is to "retire" or kill the replicants, who are considered a threat to humans. He is given a list of four replicants to track down and kill.
  • Deckard visits a corporation that manufactures replicants and meets the CEO, Dr. Eldon Tyrell, who explains the nature of the replicants and their capabilities.
  • Deckard begins his search for the replicants and tracks them down one by one. He eventually meets a replicant named Rachael, who believes she is human.
  • Meanwhile, the leader of the replicants, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), is on a mission to find Tyrell and confront him about the short lifespan of replicants.
  • As Deckard gets closer to completing his mission, he begins to question the morality of his actions and whether the replicants are really the villains.
  • In the climactic final scenes, Deckard and Batty face off in a brutal fight on a rooftop. Batty saves Deckard's life and delivers a moving monologue about the fleeting nature of existence before he dies.
  • The film ends with Deckard and Rachael driving off into the sunset, leaving the city behind.

Overall, "Blade Runner" is a visually stunning and thought-provoking film that explores themes of identity, mortality, and the nature of humanity.

Bruce: Why did Batty save Deckard's life near the end of Blade Runner?

ChatGPT: At the end of "Blade Runner," Roy Batty, the leader of the escaped replicants, saves Deckard's life after a brutal fight on a rooftop. The reason for Batty's actions is open to interpretation, but there are a few different ways to understand it:

  1. It could be seen as an act of empathy or compassion. Despite being enemies, Batty recognizes Deckard as a fellow sentient being and shows him mercy. This is consistent with the replicants' desire to be treated as equals to humans and not as disposable machines.
  2. Some have interpreted Batty's actions as a rejection of the violent, oppressive system that created him. By sparing Deckard's life, Batty breaks the cycle of violence and refuses to perpetuate the same kind of dehumanizing treatment that he and the other replicants have experienced.
  3. It could also be seen as a moment of defiance and rebellion against the human order. By choosing to save Deckard's life, Batty demonstrates that replicants are capable of acts of kindness and heroism, despite being labeled as dangerous and disposable by their human creators.

Ultimately, the reasons behind Batty's decision to save Deckard are left open to interpretation, and the scene is one of the most memorable and poignant moments in the film.
Bruce: In the last answer you provided three possible reasons that Batty saved Deckard's life. Which do you think is the most likely?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don't have personal opinions or beliefs like humans do, so I don't have a preference for any particular interpretation of Batty's actions in "Blade Runner." Each of the three possible reasons I outlined are valid and could be considered likely depending on how one chooses to interpret the film's themes and messages.

The beauty of "Blade Runner" lies in its open-endedness and the many ways it can be understood and appreciated. The film's ambiguous and thought-provoking ending invites viewers to draw their own conclusions and contemplate the implications of its themes, such as the nature of humanity, the treatment of sentient beings, and the ethics of technology.

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