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Screen Time: Happy Birthday Roy Batty

Mars Blomgren

Mars Blomgren

Maureen "Mars" Blomgren is a writer, photographer, painter, social media overlord. Mars is a loyal servant to her Pekingese named Henry. She's had her work used for album covers, posters, commissioned paintings, branding, merchandise and more. Mars has one of those new-fangled #blendedfamilies that she loves. Mars supports & promotes live music, animals and the truth. She is a proud Philly Girl that will defend the underdog till the end.
Mars Blomgren
Rutgers Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner

January 8, 2016, somewhere in a factory in Chiba City: The pulse of an A.I. life awakens in the brain of one more artificial huma-robanism and it began to process what being a Nexus 6 means.

Good morning. Your name is Roy. Roy Batty.

Rutgers Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner.

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner.

Roy was given implanted memories that the virtual tourism company Rekall thought would help him to fit in his new habitat:  elegant piano playing; belief in humanity; ideas of war; lies the corporation decided were necessary for both A.I.s and humans. As Roy’s personality traits began to turn on he was quickly shut down into sleep existence, placed on a shuttle and headed for battle within his military unit somewhere in the galaxy.

Barely 4 years later, as the Nexus 6 time span wound to a close, Roy became a leader of a rebel group of like-minded replicants and returned to Earth in search of his maker. Roy Batty accomplished things that humans could only dream of; yet still, in the end, his dreams could not save him or his maker. Roy Batty’s life-force was like that of a dying star, blinding to look at and ultimately gone…forever.

Rutgers Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Poster by Alejandro Ovalles

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Poster by Alejandro Ovalles

Today, January 8th 2016, marks the starting point in Roy’s brief electrical existence in both Philip K Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner. The replicant devoted his brief life to discovery, endurance and, finally, love. He became more than he was intended to be by living a gloriously deeper and richer life than his nemesis, the forlorn cop Rick Deckard. Rick, in the end, only survived because of Roy’s self-awareness, benevolence and generosity. I imagine the last thought to go through Roy’s mind before his famous “Tears in Rain”  speech to have been “Stop, shut down and burn like the dying sun I am.”

“Blade Runner” by Candykiller

“Blade Runner” by Candykiller

Roy’s newly-formed emotions of love for his kindred replicants, his aspiring wit, his genius among geniuses is a journey within our own attempts of comprehending artificial intelligence and our natural born fear of it. Roy is driven by love, fear and a rejection of the idea that his life is pre-destined, in the same way that most of us rebel against our own meagre existence in this universe. Roy demands the answers to the questions we all share; why is this life so short; why is it constricted only to his maker’s construct? Roy asks these questions not of a deity, but of the very mortal men who created his eyes and his brain.

Finally Roy’s maker, Eldon Tyrell, answers his burning questions but it does not appease Roy’s soon-to-be-ending existence. Would any of us really feel rescued or content with an answer from a universe devoid of meaning? At least Roy got to ask; who knows what is waiting for us. Many humans like to think they know but in the end this entire gambit is a crap shoot. Maybe we win, maybe we don’t, but no one gets to come back and tell us the outcome, we all find out for ourselves, one at a time.

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner

The tale at the heart of this story is a moral one. Cruelties are inflicted on Roy and the other sentient beings when they deserved lives far better than their creators programmed them to have. Roy and Pris were separated painfully, merely to ease the fears of humans. Roy Batty is a violent killer, longing to continue to exist; he is a compassionate and tender person who is capable of having meaningful relationships. His intellect undermines his oh-so-short life by driving him to seek the answers to his own existence.

The thought that we can create sentience while restraining its capacity to act independently by intimidating rules such as Asimov’s law should be as ethically intolerable as human slavery or animal cruelty. The practical issues of coding, writing or implanting such a code of behavior requires us not to even try to do it. If everything we do as humans to create A.I. results in beings that could be considered conscious then they would deserve full freedom to harm humans if they wanted.

Isn’t this a parable of everything we all hope for and fear of younger generations? There comes a time when we must pass the torch to our creations in hopes of saving humanity, instead of generating just one more group of slaves. We have to one day accept the fact that we humans are killing ourselves and destroying our planet and that the clock is about to strike midnight for us. Such a path begins with questions, both of corporations and creators.

Roy Batty by Ashley Newell

Roy Batty by Ashley Newell

 

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.” – Roy Batty

“Blade Runner” poster by Candykiller available here.

“Roy Batty” by Ashley Newell More information here.