A Question of Identity


The next great demotion?

It’s generally assumed that man’s next great demotion, following on from man’s displacement from the centre of universe and the adoption of the theory of evolution, will be his encounter with an alien species of equal or (more likely) greater intelligence. Humanity would no longer be able to enjoy that position on top of the evolutionary pyramid.

I am beginning to question this assumption. I believe that the next great demotion will, in fact, be much closer to home and could well involve the loss of individual identity.

Long predicted in science fiction works such as William Gibson’s seminal cyberpunk novel ‘Nueromancer’ and touched-on by TV science fiction series with protagonist races such as the ‘Borg’ in The_Next_Generation.281987-1994.29”>‘Star Trek The Next Generation’ and Doctor Who, the assumption is that as our consciousness begins to interface with either a cyberspace environment or some form of gestalt consciousness the whole concept of individual identity will begin to blur and fade.

People will begin to change bodies, either by adopting cyborg technology or through the application of advance plastic surgery, the way we change our clothes. In fact, judging by some of the more radical makeover TV programmes being broadcast now this process has already begun.

Talking of the ‘Cybermen’, you may already know that they’re slated to appear in the next season of the new Doctor Who. In order to make up their numbers, so that their race can survive, the Cybermen have had to glean individuals from other humanoid races and convert them into one of their own cyborgs. Now that Russell T. Davies has had the Daleks adopt this policy (in a way that the Labour party adopted the Conservative’s economic policy) I’m left wondering what will the Cybermen’s raison d’etre be now? Or has Russell painted himself into a corner once more?

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