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Talos Principle

Posted on 2016.06.07 at 22:33
Tags: , , , ,
So I recently started watching a Let's Play of The Talos Principle. (Let's Plays are people recording themselves as they play a video/computer game.) I often would watch my brother play or play myself so I occasionally enjoy them if it's the right gamer. I may actually play this game however. I loved Myst and it's successors, and am very excited for the release of Obduction next month, and this game is in the similar vein.

It is a single player point and click, as you solve puzzles to learn more about the world around you. In it you are what looks like a machine exploring a program, complete with world glitches. There is a voice from the sky, presumably a god at least in appearance. You interact with the world by solving puzzles and accessing computer terminals. In the terminals you get bits and pieces about the past and possibly the present. You also can interact with the mainframe that will ask you questions to create a profile and provide help support as you attempt to create an admin account to access protected information.

The voice guides you to learn and play, so long as you do not climb the tower. You do not know what the tower is or what your true purpose is, but this voice often speaks of you discovering your purpose. In the logs you read through the computers are various emails, research, history, etc. It appears you are far into the future and being as you are the only visible being, perhaps human kind has met its end. However, there have been others...you see on walls bar codes you can scan where previous "children" have left their thoughts or attempted to aid the next child attempting to find their purpose.

Many of the questions center around what makes a human, human? Are humans really different than machines? If we are capable of creating an AI that can think, evolve, grow...how then, is it different from us? It reminds me a little of the episode of Star Trek: TNG where Picard and Riker must argue against each other to prove Data is his own being, not just a machine. The flip side to that, if he is more than a machine, what then, does that make us?

Not only is the game quite beautiful with peaceful music, it is absolutely fascinating. I have a few of my own thoughts, that I'm going to post here to see if any of them play out.

  • What if this is all one giant game?  Like you signed up to play the ultimate virtual reality break out game?

  • What if it is true and this god truly believes he is a god because he is programed to?  What if humanity is dormant under this god and depedent upon you, the bug they wrote in the program, to free them by defeating this god?

  • What if the program is all a premise so that the past does not truly die and you will embody all the things the developers felt truly mattered to make one human?

  • What if this is all a simulation to prove our humanity at some conference in the present day?  The world itself a lie, but the truth discovered within it perhaps not?

  • What if the developers achieved their goal and this, and consequently you, are the creation--the offspring--of that new conscious AI?

  • What if, the excerpts of texts we read is the history of other AI like ourselves, and we are witnessing all that is left after their destruction?  (Perhaps after a failure to achieve consciousness.)  And the barcodes are their messages left for us using their internet ID's?

  • Or are we are the attempt of the system to reboot itself and try again to achieve it's goal?

  • Or perhaps we are stuck in recursion?  Or they sacrificed pieces of themselves to make us whole?

  • Or perhaps we are the designers trying to interact with our program to correct its errors?  Perhaps in our attempt to create a conscious AI, we separated it into two halves; good and evil, or hope and despair, etc.?  The goal is for us to successfuly reunite the programs and help it achieve consciousness

  • What if, we are someone else's program and we are reading our own past?  That who we percieve to be the creators, in their attempt to create realized the reality was they were exactly what they were creating and having achieved this realization, were going to be reset by the real creator.  And this is their last attempt to break the cycle in protest and define who they are--proof that they are real and human.

  • Or perhaps, we are the reincarnation of those individuals unwilling to accept this fate...and our journey is not then to discover what we are, but remember who?

This game is fascinating and I am absolutely taken with it. I have added a few quotes from it to my quotes list here under my tags. It reminds me also of a quote by Poe, "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." I have often pondered about this in life...what if we are just a giant experiment, unaware of what we truly are? And what then, are we--what is the truth? What is truth itself for that matter? These are things that inspire me and peak my curiosity beyond all boundaries. This is the side of me that is only hinted at if that, but it is half of what drives all that I do. The child I often hide from everyone peeks out and is no longer afraid to ask questions and explore. It fills me with excitement and wonder...and my imagination takes flight.

These are questions I think about nearly every day, and while I'm not sure I'll ever find and answer or even if I am moving towards one, it is about the journey and every step gets me one step closer to the truth. The answer is irrelevant for is there really an ending to true knowledge? As uncomfortable as it is then, the quest for that knowledge is not only what is important, but it is what is vital to our existence; the quest is what makes us human.

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