Thursday, July 21, 2011

Deus Ex, Morality, and Choice - Would You Upgrade?

Deus Ex:Human Revolution releases in about one month and as I type a friend is callously enjoying a Deus Ex gathering at Comic-Con with out me.  But that is not the point of this post.

I read William Gibson's cyberpunk novels and I have spent many hours running Shadowrun (I gave you the wikipedia entry because it seems that every time I check up on the product line, another company has bought the license).

In all of that time, I never could settle on an answer to one simple question - if I could, would I get cyberware (or human augmentation, as some say)?

Sure, the extreme example is the street samurai.  Wired to the gills and so augmented that one starts to ask how human they are.  Or perhaps that's just a "glass half full" vs. "glass half empty" point of view, depending upon whether you favor humanity or ass-kicking technology.

The makers of Deus Ex have done some wonderful marketing.  They have created a website for the fictitious Sarif Industries, as well as producing two great videos, one promoting Sarif Industry augmentations and another video refuting the benefits of such augmentations.  You can find these videos and more on the Eidos Montreal YouTube channel.

They are great videos, I recommend you check them out.

As fantastic as these implants may seem, I think our current technology already gives us some insight into the challenges and limitations.  We are all painfully aware of how vulnerable technology is to being compromised.

Hacking is annoying enough.  Do you really want to get to a point where someone can hack your mind or body?  Implants will almost certainly include wireless access to facilitate firmware updates or even simple tweaks and repairs.

I think that would be too much for me, but then again I viewed cell phones very differently when they were just beginning to become commonplace.  A silly luxury, a risky dependence on a wireless network, you name it.  And yet here I am, with the latest iPhone in my pocket.

Which is to say, maybe I am naive.   Maybe I will protest and resist, but eventually succumb to the lure of the benefits...assuming we come anywhere close to what our science fiction fantasies have created.  The only thing I know for sure is that the impact will be profound.

So, would *you* upgrade?

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