For this week’s assignment, my classmates and I were playing Battlestar Galactica Online. As I have only seen bits and pieces of the show (I know, something I need to remedy), I spent some time reading the Factions section on the homepage, which really only contained information on a few major characters from each side and ship details. Then came the big question. Should I play as the humans, who are trying to survive, or the Cylons, who seek the eradication of the humans? How to decide which side? Randomization, my friends, handed me over to the Cylons. A bright-eyed, not-so-bushy tailed recruit for their sweet siren song of extermination.
Our topic for this entry surrounds the question of, “what is alien?” While going through the character customization, I found it interesting that there were not very many options (or at least visible markers) to differentiate my robotic Cylon from all the others (I found a website that helped me understand why I was given a metallic body when the Cylons I was vaguely familiar with in the show looked considerably human). So, in my new form, what would be alien? Would I consider myself alien, foreign, dangerous, extraterrestrial? Or would I be normal, perfect, beautiful? Is my lack of difference in appearance a weakness or is it the perfection of a singular design? Would I consider humans with their fleshy squishiness as something disgusting, or would they just be the prototype for the evolved forms of my humanoid brethren? If that is the case, the prototypes are no longer necessary. But, if I am aware that my species (if we are self-aware but synthetic, can we be on our species?) was created at some point by humans, in all their squishiness, can I consider them alien? Or just would-be gods who my people must overcome if we are to gain our freedom?
If cognitive synthetic life becomes a reality, at what point do they stop being our creations and start becoming their own people? At what point are they our equals, or the next step in evolution? When do we, who seem to collectively think of ourselves as the highest form of all life, become that which is alien, unnecessary, and hunted?
Despite the overall seriousness of the game, a war being waged between man and his creation, I was reminded of a lighter version of the same conflict in the Ratchet and Clank series. I included a cutscene from the series with the robot-diva Courtney Gears singing “Robots of the Galaxy” (better known by its alternative title “Death to the Squishies”); lyrics can be found here. ^_^