The universe of stacks (‘hard disks’ that contain consciousnesses) and sleeves (i.e. bodies that can be switched like clothes) of ‘Altered Carbon’ (2018) is as if expanded from the world of ‘Surrogates’ (2009). Thank goodness, immaterial consciousness cannot be downloaded or uploaded via devices, to be manipulatable by technology. If possible, there will be those who trap and torture consciousnesses, by directing their perceived environments and experiences. It is the law of karma that rules the mechanics of rebirth, not the laws of merely ‘envisioned’ science (fiction).
‘Surrogates’ depicts a society where supposedly ‘all’ can be safe and beautiful, to be who you want, and do what you want, by venturing into the outside world with remotely controlled synthetic bodies of choice, while actual bodies rest at home. Though such substitute bodies were meant to empower the disabled for normal lives, they lead to addicted and perverted use by the unethical for crimes involving hacking and impersonating. Such is the promise with letdown of technology. The true betterment of society is by purging of the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion; not by mere adding of more advanced technology that might amplify the poisons’ expressions.
Class discrimination thus widens, first superficially, with the surrogates of the rich and powerful becoming more obviously durable and good-looking, while ‘biologicals’ who can neither agree with, nor afford them live gritty real lives. The truth is, ageing (of everyone’s actual bodies), potential sickness and eventual death still occur. Why live an illusory plugged in life, with dread of looking into the mirror to reflect upon reality, while keeping up pretenses? Why not live life as it is, directly, not experienced via filters, surrogates? (Incidentally, it is in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land, free from the three poisons’ activities, that all are equanimously and equally magnificent in form.)