Hideo Kojima may be crazy; Crazy like a Fox

Metal Gear Solid 2 is a great game, maybe even a revolutionary one. It is also one that forecasted future aspects of America, which at the time for some seemed like a Deus Ex Machina that ruined the finale of the game. These aspects of the story infuriated and upset many (like Brad Shoemaker), but to me, they contained one of the most philosophic moments I have had in a game.

When Metal Gear Solid 2 was released in November of 2001 it was a lot of things. It was an extremely anticipated sequel that blew up the E3 in 2000, an incredible bait and switch of the main protagonist and one of the best games for the Playstation 2. There is a lot of over the top moments in this game; break-dancing vampire Vamp, Giant Mech robots that bleed oil, a Samurai Sword fight on the top of Federal Hall, but one specific moment of the game involved a discussion that gave prediction of the state of the world that now rings so true its almost scary.

The one specific scene I am referencing comes at the very end of the game, when main character Raiden has a conversation with the computer AI known as The Patriots. Raiden learns that his trials and tribulations where only an experiment being conducted by the computer program to learn if they can manipulate human thought and behavior to control it for the benefit of societal evolution.

The conversation that follows is completely riveting and I have included the clip below, which I highly suggest you watch in full. My main point of focus picks up around the 1:05 mark.

There is a lot going on in that conversation, but one of the keys of this exchange comes at the 2:02 mark when the Colonel and Rose say the following:

Colonel: but in the current, digitized world. Trivial information is accumulating every second. Preserved in all its triteness. Never fading always accessible.

Rose: Rumors about petty issues, misinterpretations, slander…

Colonel: All of this junk data preserved in an unfiltered state, growing at an alarming rate.

Rose: It will only slowdown social progress, reduce the rate of evolution.

Before the internet came into our lives, in order to create widespread content that could reach millions of people, you had to write a book or a column in a newspaper. Communication was focus on a few channels on television, and all information was scrutinized by the population together so a social consensus or evolution could be accumulated. In the age of digitized communication, this process has been fractured a million times over and now people can gather an overwhelming amount of information based on any subject they choose in order to form their unquestioned opinions.

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Much like this blog post, in the digital era everyone can create content and write their own “truths.” This blog post is just another drop in the sea of information available on the web right now about the Metal Gear Solid series. Available information on MGS is another puddle in the oceans of available information ready to be accessed about news, politics, people, issues, animals or cultures that can be read/watch on tablets, smartphones, desktops and other devices.

Because content is so easy to create and so easy to access there has never been more consumed by our culture. It’s also never been easier to be misinformed. We now live in a dangerous age where virtual any opinion can be validated. Two people with conflicting views can use the internet and find supporting articles that claim the exact opposite. Do you think the internet is making us stupid? This article says it is and this article says it isn’t. The second key point the AI makes illustrates this problem by stating:

Colonel: The digital society furthers human flaws and selectively rewards development of convenient half truths

Furthering this explanation:

Colonel: The untested truths spun by different interest continue to churn and accumulate in the sandbox of political correctness and value systems

Rose: Everyone withdrawals into their own small gated community, afraid of a larger forum. They stay inside their little pounds, leaking whatever truths suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large

Colonel: The different truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but no one is right

These assessments so perfectly articulate our society better than anything I can remember as of late. Think about the raging gun debate that is roaring in this country; we have pro-gun and anti-gun lobbyist going at each other’s throats, but in our current social climate, who can really claim they are truly right? People on each side use circular logic to prove that their viewpoint is the only correct one. No one is invalidated, but no one is right.

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The most trouble result of all this information is how sure people are of their own convictions. Armed with their own “truths” people take to blog forums, cursing out their fellow peers to prove how right they are. We have all seen the comments on Kotaku turn ugly from time to time, trolls ruin the internet for everyone and widespread arguments result in no one changing the original belief the held at the start.

Now more than ever people are getting their news from outlets like social media. In 2001 Facebook did not exist, there was no YouTube. Twitter, instagram, snapchat, tunmlr and hell even MySpace all did not exist. Billions of hours of content, voices, articles, texts images and influences spill out from these sources. All of these channels bleed together with websites, satellite television channels and other media to create the exact informational bleeding effect described in the game. Metal Gear Solid 2, predicted our current climate.

Like it or not, this overwhelming amount of content is effecting all of us. In the game, the AI sought to control our context, and feed us the information it thought best to enhance our social evolution. The evil villain was trying to make us better. Nothing like that exist in the real world, everyone has a voice everyone contributes to our thoughts, feelings and ideas. In the absence of The Patriots, the control over our social information falls to all of us. We are influencing each other despite how correct we are, for better are worse, we are in control.

Radien: You want to control human thought? Human behavior?

Colonel: Of course: Anything can be quantified nowadays

How very right Kojima, how very right….

DanimalCart’s Soapbox: 04/17/13