There are currently two seasons available for viewing and as I start this post I am a third of the way through Season 2. I had to overlook the fact that they have cast the actress who played the immensely irritating ‘Lori Grimes’ from The Walking Dead as the pivotal female character. In fact, I would have to go as far to say that in this she plays an almost identical nauseating character ‘Katie Bowman’ who is deceitful, irrational, hot-headed and at times plain senseless inviting an almost daily shower of shit on her family at her many reckless decisions, including her astoundingly dimwitted belief (in a world where everything is seen and heard) that a peaked cap added to her outfit of the day is clearly more than sufficient as a disguise from the many eyes upon her.
I won’t give too much away, for this blog is not intended to be a review about the show itself, nor a vehicle in which to provide spoilers, suffice to say that the irritating Katie character is clearly the penance for once again welcoming the delightful Josh Holloway to our screens as the lead character, Will Bowman, husband to the aforementioned housewife and mother turned activist and all round silly cow. Will is an ex FBI agent and now unwilling Occupation collaborator due to his many skills (nothing spoilt, you learn all of this within the first episode). The story is set in the not too distant dystopian future in ‘occupied’ LA which, along with the rest of the world, has come under the fearsome rule of ‘aliens’ (we are not told why). Human residents are forced to live in harsh realities under the Naziesque conditions of the Colony Transitional Authority and their military force, Homeland Security.
Naturally, where repression is in progress, a small, ragtaggle bunch of individuals known as the Resistance or Rebellion inevitably crop up.
The show itself is relatively exciting and entertaining and does a reasonable job of reminding us about many of our human flaws, both past, and current. There are nods to many religious beliefs and specifically, I presume, digs at Scientology and Evangelicalism or modern Christianity. There are overt comparisons to the Nazi regime, to terrorist organisations, to corrupt governing administrations and a general study of the class structure within society, namely the haves and the have-nots. This is all well achieved under the guise of a fast-paced, action, science fiction series which manages to raise a number of very interesting questions.
1, If (and indeed to some, it is a very big IF) there are aliens somewhere out there, are they likely to be simply inquisitive or hostile?
I have always been a firm believer that other more advanced life forms exist in fact, to me, it would be unimaginable to believe that a universe so vast could not contain other species, whether or not there is any likelihood of ever proving that but according to Professor Simon Conway Morris: “We’re likely alone in the universe”. Given that there are believed to be at least 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, with our own solar system being one of the youngest it is, perhaps, a fair point, however, contrary to that, is the belief of eminent theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (who clearly needs no further introduction). He believes that it is highly probable that there are aliens out there and he is convinced that in the event of any contact it would most likely be ‘hostile’ or at least of a considerable threat to our current existence. He believes that any alien life form would be far more advanced, on the basis that we are one of the youngest solar systems. In excerpts taken from his online film Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places he says:
“As I grow older I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone. After a lifetime of wondering, I am helping to lead a new global effort to find out”
“One day we might receive a signal …….but we should be wary of answering back.”
I am inclined to agree, not simply because he is one of the most brilliant scientific minds on our planet but, to me, it just seems fairly common sense or most logical.
It would be lovely to think that if any other life form suddenly showed up on our doorstep, it would be simply to make our acquaintance and perhaps invite us to an intergalactic cocktail party to welcome us to the neighbourhood but in reality ‘anything’ both significantly advanced enough and prepared to make that not insubstantial journey would have to be doing so for very good reason, perhaps to reap some substantial rewards at the end of it? Colonisation of our planet or the unhindered access to any of its resources would seem the most reasonable conclusion for such a journey.
2, Will our obsession (not to be confused with #Will(Bowman)myobsession) with Artificial Intelligence be our downfall?
Hawking has also been quite critical of Artificial Intelligence stating that it could be “either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity”.
Elon Musk, the Tech billionaire, engineer, inventor, and founder of Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, shares this view to some extent, despite that he holds an executive position within OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company.
Musk believes that the tidal wave advancement of AI poses “a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”
Of these opinions too, I am in complete agreement for I have often wondered myself why humans would go to such extraordinary lengths to create something that could effectively outlearn and outsmart us, potentially resulting in our eventual extinction at its very hands, or at least by its digits (be they physical or merely suspended in data). It sounds like sci-fi paranoia but there is a very real possibility of this. We are, after all, merely mortal. I’m not talking about cyborg Terminators walking the earth as killing machines, but AI simply needs to exist inside supercomputers in order to possess the ability to learn, diversify and ultimately shut down systems that we absolutely depend on for our very lives.
For our teens, of course, I am perhaps merely describing a world without Snapchat or Instagram, but in reality switching off the internet, communications, power stations and water treatment plants would be sufficient to plunge us into a dark-age dystopia reducing us to a lawless society of scavenging and looting, where ultimately the mean prey upon the meek without any barrier in between. In Western cultures, we often use the term ‘we live in a dog eat dog society’ to describe how ambitious and how determined people are to succeed, to climb the societal ladder regardless of ethics or morals but imagine if this phrase took on a far more literal understanding.
Realistically what would we do in such an instance and how would we cope with the fact that this was a self-inflicted situation? Haven’t there been enough films about the very possibility of this to warn us off any further meddling?
3, I have touched on this before in a previous post but I have often wondered if indeed we truly are an originating species of this planet or instead something that was put here in the past as a colonisation that has proliferated to expand the entire planet. If that is the case then this would most likely have involved a human or humanoid civilisation from another planet and/or time and would certainly explain why so many of our perceived ‘aliens’ are very human-like in appearance. If it were the case that we have been placed here at some point in the past, then any ‘visitors’ to our planet would likely be our creators or masters and they may indeed be rather disappointed with the state of affairs that they find, they could thus impose a dictatorial rule whilst they set about correcting some of our many errors. Could this series ‘Colony’ be heading in that direction? In that, it is not the arriving visitors that have colonised Earth but that we, ourselves, are in fact the Colony?
4, On any future possibility of a peaceful co-existence.
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who despairing at the news on TV said to me “Why can’t everyone just get on, why can’t we all just live in peace?”. A sentiment that is shared by a great many but sadly, I feel, another hopeless ideal given the basic instincts of the human race.
I asked her “Do you get on with all of your family members?”
“Christ, No!” came her retort “My sister and I fell out years ago, which has caused a divide in the family”
I put it to her that if her very small group of relatives could not remain peaceful and harmonious with each other, then how is the entire world expected to come together, given the enormous cultural and societal differences?
It was a rhetorical question, of course.
I appreciate that co-existing in peace and relative harmony does not have to actively engage liking each other or sharing beliefs, it could merely be an agreement, a contract of tolerance but again I could give numerous examples where we currently spectacularly fail as a race at this. Neighbours dispute over some very minor issues that escalate, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
A large percentage of the population are not genuinely able to welcome ‘foreigners’ from other war-torn countries to their own country with a complete understanding and a sense of freedom toward them. More often, they feel threatened, they are suspicious, they feel that these people, these fellow human beings, do not deserve to enter their country and reap the rewards of being a citizen in a reasonably civilized space. On the flip side of that, there are many people who have been welcomed graciously in many countries who have then gone on to behave atrociously, defiling the culture, the society and disrespecting those who showed them such kindness. This happens the world over, we are all busy pointing the finger, quick to determine our own judgments of who is right and who is wrong when in actual fact it is a fundamental flaw of the human race.
I don’t believe we are designed to be peaceful beings. We seem intent on causing unrest in whatever we do.
We bicker, we argue, we covet, we envy and that is just your average law abiding everyday folk. Imagine how much worse this very human disease gets if you have averagely decent people toward one end of the spectrum and every single gradient of evilness in between until you reach the opposite end, the very pinnacle of human wickedness.
Now ask yourself the question again, as to whether it is likely or even possible that we could ever achieve world peace. The odds indeed seem somewhat stacked against us. We are still a relatively young species but not so young that we haven’t had many thousands of years of learning from our countless previous mistakes. It seems that it will take a good several thousand years more for us to achieve a more enlightened position.
As my brother said to me recently in response to my post: http://thevirtualrecluse.com/uncategorized/is-this-nanny-state-this-forcible-social-conformity-driving-you-to-despair/#more-274
“There is no reason for our being. But now that we ‘are’ then we should strive to ‘be’ better. Those that will advance our species are few, but progress will be made. The rest of us are merely supporting actors, but the odds are increased with numbers. As for the rules, we live by in our short time of doing what we do; they are an attempt to codify the chaos of existence and save us from the self-defeat of anarchy. It will take uncountable generations to get it right. In the meantime, we are living one wrong iteration. You’ll never know another, so make the most of where we are now. And whether you’re a name or just a number in a future history book, your place is the present, like it or not”.
I thought it was an astoundingly profound, intelligent and pragmatic response, I only wish I had written it myself!
It certainly had hints of Existentialism about it, or maybe that’s just how you come across when you are a techno-geek, an atheist and someone who has been asked on more than one occasion if you suffer from asbergers disorder!
As you know, I always like to end on a positive note and these are merely interesting ponderings and nothing for you to worry your pretty little heads over.
On the basis that as a species we have countless thousands of years of learning ahead of us before we eventually “get it right”, We, as in you, me, and everyone else we know, are essentially entirely off the hook.
No one is expecting anything magnificent from us. It’s never going to happen in our lifetime so perhaps we can just accept that and spend our lives concentrating on something else.
For me, that is currently the pleasant distraction of ‘Colony’ and the very welcome return of Josh Holloway, who incidentally doesn’t look a day older since his mainstream introduction to us all as the delectable James “Sawyer” Ford in ABC’s drama series Lost (2004 – 2010).
The Virtual Recluse
P.S. Defining Existentialism is way above my pay grade but if you are interested in finding out more but only wish to scratch the surface, I suggest you google ‘Bob Corbett What is Existentialism?’ who, to my mind, has done a very good job of attempting to explain this rather baffling philosophy to the lay man.