Blade Runner 2049: Demis Hassabis (Deep Mind) interviews director Villeneuve

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source: Information Processing

Hassabis refers to AI in the original Blade Runner, but it is apparent from the sequel that replicants are merely genetically engineered humans. AI appears in Blade Runner 2049 in the form of Joi. There seems to be widespread confusion, including in the movie itself, about whether to think about replicants as robots (i.e., hardware) with “artificial” brains, or simply superhumans engineered (by manipulation of DNA and memories) to serve as slaves. The latter, while potentially very alien psychologically (detectable by Voight-Kampff machine, etc.), presumably have souls like ours. (Hassabis refers to Rutger Hauer’s decision to have Roy Batty release the dove when he dies as symbolic of Batty’s soul escaping from his body.)

Dick himself seems a bit imprecise in his use of the term android (hardware or wet bioware?) in this context. “Electric” sheep? In a bioengineered android brain that is structurally almost identical to a normal human’s?

Q&A at 27min is excellent — concerning the dispute between Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford as to whether Deckard is a replicant, and how Villeneuve handled it, inspired by the original Dick novel.

Addendum: Blade Runner, meet Alien

The Tyrell-Weyland connection

Robots (David, of Alien Prometheus) vs Genetically Engineered Slaves (replicants) with false memories

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.
Stephen Hsu

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