Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 sequel to the 1982 movie Blade Runner, about a world in which some human-looking replicants have become dangerous, so that other human-looking replicants, as well as humans, have the job of hunting down the dangerous models and “retiring” (destroying) them. Both films have been widely hailed as among the greatest science-fiction movies of all time, and Ridley Scott, director of the original Blade Runner, has announced that there will be a third Blade Runner movie.
Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy is a collection of entertaining articles on both Blade Runner movies (and on the spin-off short films and Blade Runner novels) by twenty philosophers representing diverse backgrounds and philosophical perspectives. Among the issues addressed in the book:
What does Blade Runner 2049 tell us about the interactions of state power and corporate power?
Can machines ever become truly conscious, or will they always lack some essential human qualities?
The most popular theory of personhood says that a person is defined by their memories, so what happens when memories can be manufactured and inserted at will?
We already interact with non-human decision-makers via the Internet. When embodied AI becomes reality, how can we know what is human and what is simulation? Does it matter?
Do AI-endowed human-looking replicants have civil and political rights, or can they be destroyed whenever “real” humans decide they are inconvenient?
The blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) appears in both movies, and is generally assumed to be human, but some claim he may be a replicant. What’s the evidence on both sides?
Is Niander Wallace (the-mad-scientist-cum-evil-corporate-CEO in Blade Runner 2049) himself a replicant? What motivates him?
What are the impacts of decision-making AI entities on the world of business?
Both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 have been praised for their hauntingly beautiful depictions of a bleak future, but the two futures are very different (and the 2019 future imagined in the original Blade Runner is considerably different from the actual world of 2019). How have our expectations and visions of the future changed between the two movies?
The “dream maker” character Ana Stelline in Blade Runner 2049 has a small but pivotal role. What are the implications of a person whose dedicated mission and task is to invent and install false memories?
What are the social and psychological implications of human-AI sexual relations?