DISCLAIMER: Article may contain spoilers of the Metal Gear Solid Series.
I have already written about the themes of video games seeping into reality, but that was about a more recent critically acclaimed game, Persona 5. Today, we are going to talk about a game that is quite a bit older, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The Metal Gear series revolves around battling bipedal machines that are usually able to launch nuclear weapons called metal gears. Most games star a mercenary named Solid Snake who is tasked with destroying the aforementioned metal gears. However, the story of Metal Gear is a complex story about being free to make your own decisions and fight for what you believe rather than following the role that your government sets for you.
The United States in the game series is a bit different from the United States we actually live in, but it shares some similarities. In Sons of Liberty, it is revealed that the United States has been secretly controlled by an AI system. The AI system was known as the Patriots, and their goal is to control the world because they do not believe people are capable of thinking for themselves. At the very end of game, when the Patriots’ AI contacts the player character, Raiden, it flat out tells him that humans are incapable of deciding the truth because of memes and the like. The goal behind the events of Sons of Liberty was to be able to control world events and individuals to prevent what they believe to be the human race’s inevitable destruction. The following are direct quotes from the antagonist AI, who is disguised as Raiden’s commanding officer: “the digital society furthers human flaws and selectively rewards the development of convenient half-truths. Just look at the strange juxtapositions of morality around you; what we propose to do is not to control content, but to create context” (link to the whole conversation here).
Don’t get me wrong. The idea that humans are stupid is not one that I disagree with. But, the idea of literal tech overlords needing to regulate content for that reason makes me sick. In the real world, however, instead of AI we have algorithms programmed by rich elites who live in Silicon Valley and believe that it is their job to moderate the truth. For example, Facebook just upheld their ban of former President Donald Trump’s account following the January 6th storming of the Capitol. We even have former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton talking about reigning in disinformation. If they can be the arbiters of what is real and fake, then it is not looking good for the land of the free. The House Democrats seem to be planning to twist the arm of social media companies in order to “combat disinformation.” I personally do not believe that Trump had the election stolen from him, but what really annoys me is that these are the same people who are calling his words violent after ignoring the violence that occurred due to their own inflamed rhetoric (if we are using the same standard, that is). This is the issue with having a system of government that has no limitations on their power, just like how the Patriots’ AI was doing what they thought was best for Americans and tried to sugarcoat their control as helping them. The goal is not freedom, it is conformity. While conformity is not always a bad thing, trying to force every person in a country (which is the Patriots’ ultimate goal though they have more…global goals) to conform to what a mob of people believe is best will just stunt humanity, not save it. It is true that humans may not be the smartest people in the world, but that does not give tech overlords the right to rule over them. So, just like the main character of the Metal Gear Solid series, we need to fight for our freedoms and for the next generation.