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Battlestar Galactica and Caprica

battlestar battlestar galactica caprica cylon

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9 replies to this topic

#1
Caiman

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Okay, so neither of these shows are depictions of our own future, but they do portray an otherwise human society which though more advanced in some respects, is on the surface culturally and technologically similar to how our own might look in a few decades. Caprica especially deals with a society apparently on the brink of a technological singularity, with the proliferation of very advanced computers, fully immersive, detailed virtual worlds, mind uploading and the invention of self-aware artificial intelligence humanoid robots. It wouldn't be a spoiler to say that this doesn't end well, given the premise of Battlestar Galactica, which is set 50 years later and deals with the aftermath of a war with the machines and then total annihilation of society at their hands the second time around. Both shows deal with some other interesting issues which I'm sure we can discuss as an aside, such as monotheistic beliefs being taboo rather than prevalent, polygamous relationships with multiple partners of different sexes being accepted alongside monogamous opposite sex relationships and so on. Mostly I'm interested in whether people think there are any parallels in what these shows portray and whether any of the technology and society portrayed in these shows might develop in our own future.
~Jon

#2
luisdeaf

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Spoiler


#3
Mentat

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BSG and Caprica did brilliantly what all good sci-fi does. Specifically it rips today's headlines and transplants them in a futuristic setting. The series took issues such as terrorism, religion and the dangers of technology then explored what they might look like in the future. In reference to your question, Caiman, I think that both series illustrated how technology can advance faster than human society. Star Trek showed a society where technology had done away with hunger, disease and greed. Therefore, technology had left humanity free to pursue philosophy and science. Conversely, Caprica showed a society where technology had rotted away core human values. The city of Caprica was clean and peaceful on the surface, but the people living there had lost all sense of right and wrong. Likewise, BSG showed where technology itself had become feared. Technology was no longer an abstract danger, but had become personified in the form of the Cylons. I think the moral lessons of the BSG universe can be summarized in one question: "We can, but should we?"
"You lot. You spend all your time thinking about dying, like you're going to get killed by eggs, or beef, or global warming, or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible: that maybe you survive." - Doctor Who, "The End of the World"

#4
Chronomaster

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I think the moral lessons of the BSG universe can be summarized in one question: "We can, but should we?"

It's a good question, and a difficult one to answer. If research into nuclear physics had been stopped upon the asking of this question, we'd have a world without massively destructive weapons capable of wiping our humanity in an instant. But think of all the other benefits our knowledge of the atom has wrought. It's a juggling act, and I don't think humanity will ever sit back and stop pursuing an avenue in technology 'just in case'. We need to make sure we understand what we're creating and can control it once we have...
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#5
Craven

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If you like BSG, you'll surley fell in love with this: http://cache.gawkera..._colonies_1.jpg
"I walk alone and do no evil, having only a few wishes, just like an elephant in the forest."

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone."

#6
Andy

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Tired, might be about to chat rubbish, sorry

"We can, but should we?"


No, but yes.

Whenever something like that comes up (eg: nuclear energy), the immediate answer should be no. But someone will always say yes, eventually. So the question should not be "should we?", but "how do we do it safely?"

The way I see it, the reason bad things happen in the Galactica universe is because there was a general lack of knowing when to hold back (the way the second war started, the two sides general attitudes towards each other, the completely selfish attitudes of the Greystones in pursuing things without thinking of the consequences). They could have said no, and just not done it, but it might have happened anyway or simply held back the world for a while, unnecessarily. But if progress can be kept on a safe and steady path, what we discover could be amazing.

What we discover could also be a virus that wipes out all life on the planet but that's why you don't just charge at possibilities.

I think in general science communities have the right kind of attitude toward that, and the kinds of warnings from Caprica, Galactica, Fringe and other researchy sci-fi shows aren't exactly being ignored, because it's a way of thinking ingrained into scientists from the beginning. People directly outside the scientific world don't get that though, because they didn't have the same education. So there's just fear and uncertainty about everything. Random example: hydrogen power (hydrogen cell cars, for instance) being dangerous/explosive.

And its in things like that I think the Galactica universe, or more specifically Caprica, was a bad thing. In Galactica it was about overcoming bad times, getting over problems to come together. Caprica contained an intense amount of distrust though, and there was a general fear of technological progress running throughout the show (generally just fear running throughout the show), while Galactica was just fear about technology (Cylons) in general (and they overcome that, to an extent). It would have been nice had Caprica been about overcoming and resolving that fear for the betterment of mankind, but given that it was never going to end on a positive note and was always going to have that mad conspiracy vibe with the religious attributes it included, it was never going to happen.

Which is sad really, as Caprica just ends up preaching to the choir with its warnings, then scaring everyone else into thinking scientists are really that reckless. Or that's the impression I got from it anyway.

BSG on the other hand was fine with telling its audience that such xenophobia was wrong and everyone should stop so better things can happen. And it did it wonderfully in the context of both sides of the fear.
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For everyone's sake, watch this video

#7
Caiman

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Whenever something like that comes up (eg: nuclear energy), the immediate answer should be no. But someone will always say yes, eventually. So the question should not be "should we?", but "how do we do it safely?"

Which I think is the way we're going, given how much red tape and bureaucracy seems to play a part in the development of new technologies and large scale soultions, but the issue is what price will be put on that safety, i.e. the old 'what's cheaper, the costs of a recall and redesign or the compensation payouts when it does go wrong?'.

You also have to worry about us reaching a point where a number of technologies converge and different approaches, rules and regulations may have been put into place during their development which undermines attempts to control the outcome of their convergence. Could something emerge which we won't anticipate and thus be left vulnerable and helpless to prevent?

I think as you've pointed out, shows like these play an important role in their portrayal of scientific and technological advancement, even if they don't always do a great job of getting the balance right or reach a massive audience. I totally agree with your stance that even if it seems ethical not to pursue a path of technology or science because it could lead to destructive outcomes, we really have no choice but to do so because someone will, eitherway- it reminds me of a storyline from Star Trek where the Federation outlawed any further study, science or technology based around the 'Omega Particle' because it had massively destructive capabilties, but this just made them vulnerable to those races that did intend to continue researching and developing it, and left them ill-equipped and badly informed about how to deal with events and accidents caused by their lack of knowledge.
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~Jon

#8
Chronomaster

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Was there any clarification in Caprica as to the source of the AI which became the Cylons? Was it actually artificial or did it require the human mind of Zoe Graystone as a catalyst? I recall there were robots in the show that were clearly more advanced than anything we have, like the helper Daniel Graystone had in his house, but there's obviously a gulf between that and the Cylons, which were self-aware and fully autonomous.
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#9
Shimmy

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Was there any clarification in Caprica as to the source of the AI which became the Cylons? Was it actually artificial or did it require the human mind of Zoe Graystone as a catalyst? I recall there were robots in the show that were clearly more advanced than anything we have, like the helper Daniel Graystone had in his house, but there's obviously a gulf between that and the Cylons, which were self-aware and fully autonomous.


Wasn't her friend (I forget her name, the one who became the priestess queen of hell or whatever) able to command them and overrule any other orders, because of her previous friendship with miss graystone. I took that as implying part of her mind was in all of them, that and the fact nothing worked at all and then when he put her in one it suddenly worked fine.

#10
Caiman

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Was there any clarification in Caprica as to the source of the AI which became the Cylons? Was it actually artificial or did it require the human mind of Zoe Graystone as a catalyst?

Well, if you recall it wasn’t really Zoe in the virtual world, it was an AI that she created in her image and then uploaded her memories to. I think there’s a slight distinction there. This was a bit of an annoying sticking point for me in the overarching plot of the series though, that the AI that brought down their civilisation was created by an angsty teenage girl to hang around with in their advanced version of second life :p Still, I suppose the implication by the end of the series is that she was ‘directed/inspired’ by the ‘gods’ to create the AI so I’ll just have to live with that one.
~Jon




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