Machines & Human Affection: Revitalizing Power
Loving your car too much, dreaming & caring of it, will make it last long. Are you sure you want this?
I love movies directed by James Cameron. Yes, yes, that child who cried on DiCaprio's tragic demise in “Titanic” was me. And that one who hid under the coach on “Aliens” was also me. However, the number ONE on my list of Cameron's masterpieces is “Terminator 2: The Judgement Day.” Arnold Schwarzenegger starred there in his ultimate magnitude. In its turn, the script was perfectly consistent. The dramatic atmosphere of an all-penetrating doom was never-to-be-forgotten.
I bet, that is not only me who admires this movie. Assessing it critically, this movie stands aside because it became a successful and very empathic speculation on machine-and-human relations. The T-800 (Model 101, Version 2.4) is a a bloody killing robot who has been re-programmed and “pacified.” Afterwards, following impulses of his artificial intellect, the T-800 decided to “befriend” humans and become more humane himself. You remember that smile scan, don't you? Therefore, we – as viewers – have a clear sympathy to him. The T-800 won our affection.
On the other hand, we have the T-1000, staggeringly performed by Robert Patrick. The non-re-programmed killer. Newest liquid metal model. Theoretically indestructible and superior to the T-800. He has none of our affection regardless of the fact that he is better and technologically perfect.
And here comes the Cameron's trick. The T-800, the “old” machine, shines in rays of our affection regardless of all its “vices.” Simply because he has been re-programmed and we see him as a more close to humans. The T-1000, the “new” machine, is perceived as an ultimate villain simply because he has not been re-programmed. We do not know how his artificial intellect would behave in case of “pacification”. The T-1000 has nor a gram of our sympathy regardless of all of his “virtues.”
What I'm going to say here is that we – as viewers and human beings – get attached to machines. It often happens that we object the idea of trying something new and much better simply because the old has crafted that unique bond to our identities. Human beings are often irrational because they become too sentimental.
Developing this argument, in the next movie of the series, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," we encounter the T-850. An upgraded version of the robot we used to like. Has he became better than the T-1000? No! Has he become more competitive to a new villain, the T-X? No! Yet, we admire the sole fact that he has been upgraded. He acquired more functions, but remained the bloody same machine. Consumed by our reinforced affections, we continue to enjoy dopamine boosts!
A friend of mine, Adam, owns a car. Twilight Blue Pearl (12K) Mazda 323F BA produced in Hiroshima on June 23, 1996. It had 191K km on odometer when Adam bought it in February 2009. Its B-series engine was capable to emit 114 horsepowers. That was a typical Mazda of '90s. Easy come and easy go vehicle. Engineered to end up on a junkyard.
The “problem” with Adam is that he got attached to his Mazda. He often says that it drives much better – and gives more thrill – than his Jaguar X-type from 2000s. Having some advanced engineering skills, he started to craft the T-850 out of his T-800. The soul install.
Throughout ten years of his ownership, Adam transformed the car into a comparatively up-to-date vehicle. Old and “boring” steering wheel was replaced by a multi-media one from '06 Mazda 6. All buttons on the wheel were connected to a stereo system and a board computer, which Adam crafted specifically for his vehicle. All light bulbs in the cabin, as well as in all gauges, were replaced with led; sometimes this required soldering additional micro-boards. The standard heater of '90s was replaced by a climate control from the later Mazda models; this also required much wiring ans soldering. In the center of a dashboard a tablet was installed, a fully-functional and fully connected to the car device (GPS, digital radio, Internet-access, extra gauges, etc). I'm not mentioning here about the upgrades to the stereo-system: amplifier, sub-woofer, and a bunch of high frequency speakers. The whole boot was re-built for this with a very little loss to the car's practicality.
Apart from the interior modifications, Adam completed a huge work under the bonnet. For instance, he upgraded his engine from an ordinary BP-ZE to Mx-5 BP-ZE, which was used in '94-97 Miata's Mk2. This required the merger of two engines (transverse to longitudinal) and an extra-drilling-and-welding in places where this merger did not go that smooth. The result was an increase in horsepower from 114 to 124 (almost 10%). As for the 1115 kg vehicle, this was a noticeable boost. While working on the engine, Adam also made it look right! Heat resistant paint was put on a valve cover, all pipes were wrapped in a green tape. Mates, the crafted BP-ZE looks much better today than the amorphous engines of majority of contemporary cars!
The stock suspension was replaced by a threaded one. The car sits low now and bigger potholes became a problem. However, Adam says that the threaded suspension seems to be softer than the lowered stock. At least, smaller potholes and bumps are not that teeth-breaking. Also, the 17” alloy wheels were mounted instead of the stock 15”. Adam additionally proofed his vehicle against unwanted sounds-and-vibrations. The latest update of which I know was the replacement of halogen bulbs with the led in headlights.
Yes, Adam's Mazda lacks some modern functions, such as traction control, cruise control, blind spot monitor, night vision, adaptive light control, and others. At least, it lacks them at the moment. It does not have that many horsepowers as its modern competitors. It also lacks turbo. The hand-crafted climate control has no zone divisions. But overall, the car looks better and does better than a number of new cars of its class.
The car became Adam's affection. It is a head-turner on streets. I do also like it very-very much! It is hard to believe that the car is more-than-20-years-old and runs on “upgraded” technologies of early '90s. But what Adam does – and what other's admire – is that he poses a threat to the consumerist values of our society. Keeping old technologies running makes it harder for new technologies to emerge and develop. Luckily, Adam's affection is an exception rather then a rule. “Rather” should be stressed here.
It appears that Adam is not the biggest daredevil in making old cars “new.” A couple of days ago I read an article “Sacrilege or Saviour” by Matthew D'souza on the D_TRB: drivetribe.com/p/sacrilege-or-saviour-U-qaZZ0pTcKA34cbW7ZuvA?iid=cAD6Lu7LS8GWzGWjNzrsZw Matthew encountered enthusiasts who replace internal combustion engines with electric motors on classic cars. Simply because they love these cars – in a very specific kind of love – and want to secure their existence in future. We may argue about whether this is rational, but... Luckily, these enthusiasts are also an exception rather then a rule.
Our all-embracing affection could work great if we lived in a different world. Being a product of human emotions, no affection allows revolutionary development of any things and, thus, it loses competition to the dynamic demands of humankind. “More, better, now” rule, remember? In the 19th century people loved horses and drove carriages. In the 20th century carriages were replaced by cars with internal combustion engines. Sooner of later cars will be replaced by something else. Therefore, improvements of old vehicles are reasonable only to a certain degree. Even if this is electrification of classics.
To make things even more dramatic, T-800 self-destroys itself at the end of the second movie. Its technology must die as it becomes incompatible to its reality.
But, you remember “I'll be back,” don't you?
And T-800 will come back (T-880?). In other movie. And will win again. Regardless of his obsolete “vices.” Because we care.
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P.S. I almost forgot, mates. There were also a couple of interesting cars in “Terminator 2”
P.P.S. And yes. Here is my friend Adam. Upgrading someone else's 323F.