GAIA is a Cyborg? Exploring Ecological Personhood in Horizon Zero Dawn

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2020-03-25
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

Midway through the 21st century, the world was at the peak of automated military practices. One of the greatest achievements, to date, was a combat-ready robot swarm by the name of Chariot. Chariot swarms were designed to utilize biomass as fuel, self-replicate, and be virtually unhackable. Robotic swarms were ideal military units until a glitch in one Chariot unit sparked a series of mutations throughout the army’s system that rendered Chariot robots uncontrollable—consuming biomass and replicating at a staggering rate. As the world descended into darkness, project Zero Dawn was enacted as a last-ditch effort to preserve Earth and its inhabitants. At the helm of this operation was AI system named GAIA, who was directed to restore the biosphere and create life once again. This paper will examine the synthetic being GAIA in the game Horizon Zero Dawn to segue into an argument for the inclusion of incipiency and versatility as possible criteria for establishing moral personhood. Two key points will then be derived from the argument: Cyborgism isn’t just for humans. Reimagining Gaia as a cyborg opens a new avenue for exploring rights and duties to the environment.

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