Sometimes somethings happen that deserve nothing other than a satirical or humorous dissection in order to make sense of them. For just those happenings, we have nothing other than the Court of the Great King Minos to schmooze and kibitz and have a few laughs. Afterall, as the Judge of the Dead in the Underworld, I am sure his eminence has a few stories to tell. And so, articles you find here in King Minos’ Court are less serious and more humorous, or at least so I hope…
Holden: “Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… your mother.”
Leon: “My mother?”
Leon: “Let me tell you about my mother…”
- Blade Runner (1982)
For the gods keep hidden from men the means of life. Else you would easily do work enough in a day to supply you for a full year even without working…
- Hesiod, Works and Days (par. 42) (circa 700 BCE)
I can still remember seeing Blade Runner with my own mother in a little strip mall movie theater next to the K-Mart where we did most of our shopping in Kansas City, Missouri’s northland. I remember the narrowness of the rows, the feel of the flip down seat and sticky floor as I sat there motionless and mesmerized by what remains, to this day, a true marvel of dystopian future scene setting and storytelling. We saw Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty, a robot-replicant, ponder big questions like what it meant to be human, while we were left to wonder whether the story’s protagonist, Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard knew himself. The quote above from Los Angeles Police Department “Bladerunner” Dave Holden’s administration of the Voight-Kampff test to fugitive replicant Leon Kowalski triggered a reaction which threw Leon into a rage, wherein he violated the first of Isaac Asimov’s Three Cardinal Rules of Robotics: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” Perhaps Leon, who was struggling with his own identity, did not believe he was constrained by that maxim hard wired into his neurocircuitry. Modern day, real life creators of artificial intelligence are warning us that this fundamental rule may be impossible to legislate. In a world where science fiction has become passé the underlying themes of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece remain powerfully poignant, and as alluded to by the Ancient Greek Poet Hesiod, mankind’s desire to become “more godlike” only results in the opening of Pandora’s Box.