The thing about Deus Ex is that it has always touched upon transhumanism. It is the west’s own version to the the masterpiece of Japanese Anime, Ghost in the Shell (both the movies and series). With technology comes the ability to do the things we could never have done as mere human beings. Both Ghost in the Shell and Deus Ex touches upon the consequences of those abilities and they are pretty good at bringing those issues to light.
In DXHR though, one of the main issues is how will the rest of the world deal with the idea we can be capable of so much more through the technology we created. As a man of science, I’m more inclined to go with the idea that the progression of science and technology has dammning consequences only to those who aren’t able to put it to good use.
Technology itself was never corruptible, but human beings are. We after all are a byproduct, locked into several million years of evolution thanks to our ability to change the environment to our needs, rather than the other way around. The human mind, through biology and ultimately culture has defined its own limitations of what we can or cannot do. As such many people place such mistrust on what technology, which has the ability to bypass those barriers, can do to the limitations that we have come to believe or even rely on for so long.
So in Deus Ex or Ghost in the Shell, I fully welcome the ability to be more than what’s defined to be human. I fully welcome the idea that the human consciousness can be nothing more than a collection of unique data in a specialised hardware properly optimised for the user. What it means for me is that by mastering and perhaps surpassing my physical shell, I can attain a state where the infinite free flow of information will allow me to understand and accomplish anything. You know, answering the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.
Of course that would mean that whatever beliefs, whatever ideals and compulsions and impulses that you have right now as a human being would have to be challenged, and most likely discarded. The real issue isn’t whether or not we are able to transcend human flesh. It is whether we will be able to transcend the human mind. Whether we as human beings are able to put away notions and conceptions of an old world when a new one is upon our very bodies.
There will always be resistance and even more dangerously, there will always be people with old world minds in new world bodies, having all that power, for a cause that is as archaic as we we first established dominant communities. What is important is that we have to realise, whether through ignorance or a conviction of character and principle, majority of the people are not and will not be readily give up their definitions or conceptions as a human being. Through that will be the more powerful people who would take advantage of that ignorance and nature of those people for their own gain. It isn’t technology allowing us to perpetuate this, it is ourselves that give this free reign. It is our human nature to, one centuries of technological advancement cannot run away from.
Ultimately transhumanism isn’t about the technology we slap on ourselves regardless of whether we’re biologically enhanced or mechanically augmented, it is in the mindset we hold on to. The responsibilities we partake when we carry the ability to do more than we are previously capable of doing. All the advancements in the world isn’t going to change the fact we’re still trying to fight the inner beast that has existed in ourselves for thousands of years. It time at least to start leaving that battle behind. To acknowledge and understand that it has served us well, then embrace and develop it to bring it in line to a world that has long tried to keep it in a dark box. When we’ve let go of that secret shame, only then can we start working towards a mindset that redefines what it means to be human, to be transhuman in more than just body.
Until that day comes, there will always be those that will be left behind, those that will want to control the people that are left behind, and those that are helpless to do anything about it because they are too far ahead to understand what the problem is about. Such is a long troublesome road.
To think there would be much thought and philosophizing from a simple game. You bet it’s a damn good one.
Warning: The link I’ve posted contains endgame spoilers throughout the second half of the article. Read at your own risk if you haven’t played or such things don’t bother you. Feel free to go through it if you’ve already finished the game. Deus Ex: Human Revolution Is About DRM