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Nier: Ship of Theseus

Nier: Ship of Theseus
Photo by Austin Neill / Unsplash

Nier Automata: Spoiler alert!

Nier Automata: Resistance Supply Trader, an android. During the supply trader's quest, 2B asks him why he does not use the parts to repair his left leg. He then tells 2B that it's the only thing left of him that's still real. Therefore he decides to continue keeping the broken leg.

From Wikipedia:

"In its original formulation, the "Ship of Theseus" paradox concerns a debate over whether or not a ship that had all of its components replaced one by one would remain the same ship. The account of the problem has been preserved by Plutarch in his Life of Theseus:"

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.— Plutarch, Life of Theseus 23.1

Let's forget about the ship for a moment and apply the theory to the biology of the human body. The human body replaces its own cells regularly. We shed skin, grow new hair, grow nails, and so on. At a certain point in life, all your cells will be replaced. Are you still you? Let's say that you have to undergo surgery, and most of your organs will be replaced. You will have parts from other human beings donated to you. Are you still you? At what point are you no longer you? And what defines you as you?

I Nier Automata, all the Androids' memory data are uploaded to a server in the bunker in space. Their body can be disposed of at any time and they will receive a new body. What defines each androids is their unique ID and all the memory data tied to that ID. Since we humans don't have a digital self, what defines us? Will all be lost when we die? Let's imagin that in the future there is a way to gather all data from a dead person and recreate that person's personality in a digital format. Is that person that person? Does one need to be tied to a biological body made of gen originating from their descendent?