If Replicants Existed, How Would You Treat Them?

In both Blade Runner movies, we’re presented with the concept of “replicants”: Humanoid entities that look, sound, feel, think, and act like humans…except that they’re artificially made (I’m not quite sure how they’re made. They’re so close to humans that they’re essentially “born”).

If replicants existed, would you treat them any differently than humans?

When I posed this question to a few friends after the movie, their reaction was that no, they’d treat them with the same respect and dignity as human beings. However, I think there’s a difference between how we’d like to think we’d act in a certain situation and how we’d actually act.

I think it’s innately human to seek power. We learn to fight the negative implications over time: When we’re young, we take toys from our siblings or refuse to eat our spinach. These are power plays.

We control those urges as adults, but we still fall into temptation from time to time. Maybe we passively belittle someone or make a joke at their expense. Perhaps we issue an order instead of a request to someone in the service industry or speak down to a telemarketer.

The reason most of use don’t succumb to the allure of power is that another part of our humanity is that empathy we feel for each other. In many of those moments where a small part of you wants to feel powerful at someone else’s expense, a stronger part says, No. They’re human too. They deserve better.

It’s that check-and-balance that I hypothesize would be greatly diminished in our interactions with replicants. Because of that, I think we would be much more prone to asserting power over them, no matter how much we would fight those urges.

We’d justify it later by telling ourselves, They’re just machines. We don’t care how our microwaves feel, right? Our TVs? Do you say “please” when you make a request of Siri or Alexa?

Anyway, that’s my theory. My hope is that I’m wrong. What do you think?

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