Science Observation: Diablo II, Stem Cell Research, WTF!

by phil on Thursday Feb 12, 2004 12:05 PM
Singularity, cloning

There was news today that I saw on MSNBC that stem cells have been extracted from human clones ////

Commentary follows...

Now what this conjures up in my mind is a future with shops that sell living body parts. As you walk up to the counter of this fictional store, they'll say to you, "Sir, would you like a super-sized kidney with your meal?"

Now I was thinking, how would I react in this situation? What would I feel seeing these sacks of living tissue laid right in front of me. Well I guess you could compare how you would feel to how you've previously felt upon seeing a disremembered body parts. Unfortunately, or fortunately in this case, I've never seen a dismembered body part. There have been no hacked off arms or fingers in my life, thank you. However, I bet that every time you see a dismembered body part, you imagine the person who was once full, but has now been made piece-wise thanks to some unfortunate circumstances. In the case of the store, however, these bio-engineered body parts have been grown independently of an actual human being. Unlike the dismembered body part, you won't have referent to ponder. It won't be dismembered body parts on sale, but rather unmembered body parts. Nonetheless, the illusion will be the same for most people, and I think it will take a little getting used to seeing arms, kidneys, and ears floating around, unattached to any particular person, lying on a shelf.

And as I was reflecting on this thought-process, I was reminded of the character from Diablo II the Necromancer. This is the character that can cast a spell on bones from dead characters, and animate them into living warrior/companions.

And then I thought in our post-post-modern times, have all of these characters from Diablo II, including the Amazon, Necromancer, Barbarian, Sorceress, and Paladin, become redundant? We can already see now that the traits that distinguish these characters apart can be collapsed into one package human. Take the Amazon, for example, who is a female archer in the game. If you wanted to be her, you could easily get a transsexual operation. For those who can't afford the operation, they can don on the personality of the heteroflexible, a new word used to describe someone who is straight but can also "go both ways". You could apply the same thinking to the other characters as well. To replicate the Barbarian you just take muscle-enhancing protein shakes or Creatin. To become the Sorceress, a wielder of magic, just hang out at Burning Man for a while, and learn some cool tricks with fire and multi-colored fabric. To become a Paladin, just pop in some amoxicillin to cure your ailments or take stem cell injections. This is what we can do now. Fifty years ago, the above activities were either too expensive or too socially unacceptable to be feasible. So if you consider what the next fifty years will be like, so much flexibility and power will be rolled up into one human. What you will then have is that groups of characters who were once rich with variety will be dulled with weakness. All of these characters will just seem like weaker fragments of a single human. It would be as if you made a game with characters that were distinguished only by which body part they used, like a character that only used his legs, or one that only used his left arm.

Anyway, this whole process of thinking about science, imagining science fiction, as pondering the future of man, is founded on a common technique. First, you take any set of objects that belong under one concept. So in this example, the characters from Diablo are under one umbrella concept of "divergent-character-frameworks." And then with this set, you either explode or implode its member elements. So in this particular example, we imploded all of these character traits into one human being. Likewise, we could've exploded set, and conjured up a future where there will be a million character-types that are all as distinct as the Diablo characters. And so constantly dreaming about implosion and explosion is a fun and simple way to imagine where things will go.

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