Psycho Pass episode 9 – Oscar Pistorius the cyborg
I’ve noticed that the opening for Psycho Pass includes a shot of Kougami fighting another version of himself, much like the opening to Future Diary. Assuming the imagery used means the same thing, we can therefore conclude that Kougami is a time traveller. This is technically a spoiler for Future Diary, but if you were able to make sense of the plot to Future Diary, you are one of a privileged few.
If you’re going to make someone the spokesperson of future move to full cyborg bodies, I’d recommend not using this guy. His mechanical swap from blank face to smile was creepy as hell. I wonder how much of that was down to his mechanical parts and how much is because he’s just generally a creepy dude. Also, how predictable is it that Psycho Pass brought cyborgs into the plot. I’m not complaining, and the way they’re talking about the subject is indeed fascinating, but it’s part of the cyberpunk rulebook that you must have cyborgs.
Something I’ve been thinking about ever since Zero Punctuation brought it up rather tangentially in a review of Deus Ex Human Revolution is that we already augment our bodies with machinery. Isn’t that what the wheel does? We do not move that quickly, especially when required to carry heavy loads, so we have augmented ourselves with circular supports. OK we didn’t replace our actual legs with wheels, which is the sticking point. But we’ve been doing that for people who do not have what is seen as the ‘perfect body’. I’m not just talking breast implants here, where the benefits are just visual. We blast people’s eyes with lasers so their eyesight is up to scratch, and even without lasers we add machinery to their body to artificially improve their eyesight, namely glasses. It’s gotten to the point that an athlete can be disqualified from competing in professional competitions because his replacement legs are better than actual legs (yeah he was allowed in eventually but the point still stands). It hasn’t gotten to the point where athletes have started hacking off their own legs and replacing them with blades to improve their performance, but considering what else they pump into their body to gain an edge, hacking off their legs seems like a more sane option.
Psycho Pass is not moe.
Despite having seen more than my fair share of cyborg humanity stories, I’ve never seen it concentrate on the idea of trying to achieve immortality through mechanical parts. We die because our bodies fail, so we replace our bodies with entirely mechanical parts and we live forever. Except do we? Because we don’t know what exactly it is that makes us who we are. That whole idea of the ‘soul’. It comes from the belief that our personality and memories can’t really be stored inside that squishy mess of a thing we call a brain. It does, as various medical patients have proven. Getting injuries to specific parts of your brain can severely change your personality. There was a story circulating tabloids in England a while back about a big buff rugby player who got into a motorcycle accident, took a blow to his head, and when he finally woke up he started talking differently, became a gay hairdresser, dressed in skin tight white t-shirts, and generally lived up to the gay stereotype as accurately as he possibly could.
So we can accept that our personality lives in our brain and is dictated by these biological mechanics that we don’t fully understand but at least have a grasp on. But if we can replace all our other body parts with mechanical pieces, as we’re already getting the hang of with the heart and lungs and so on, could we replace our brain too? Kaiba was based around a fascinating concept that your personality and memories were something you could move from body to body, which led to a world where poor people would sell their memories of learning to play the piano to rich people, and the rich would swap bodies to whatever was in fashion at the time. Kaiba is a goddamn great show and everyone should watch it, but it also wasn’t particularly bothered with the accuracy of its science fiction. Psycho Pass was partly bringing up the point that if we could create prosthetic brains, could our personality and memories and ‘soul’ be transferred over too? If we could, would we just be robots, since all of our parts are machinery? Does that mean robots are now humans, since they’re completely indistinguishable from humans that have gone full cyborg?
Cyberpunk man. It’s deep shit.
I think I’ve worn my own brain out with this post, so I’ll just finish off by saying that Akane losing her temper was fucking awesome.