Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time and Punishment

An article by Rebecca Roache has gained some notoriety among futurist circles recently. In this article Roache speculates on how anticipated technologies like life extension, mind uploading and Human modification might be used to punish criminals. The main source of controversy has been that the tone of the original article made it seem that Roache was in favour of using advanced technology to torture prisoners in ways that were never before possible. Roache has since insisted that the article is merely speculation and that she does not necessarily support any of the penal methods she discusses.

Regardless of Roache’s intent, I believe that the outrage the article has provoked is not misplaced. Transhumanists, at least of the Kurzweil variety, tend to be a rather Utopian lot. They generally assume that future technology will only be used for good, and that good will be equally distributed. They often fail to seriously consider all of the ways future technology might be abused or misused, and the profound and prolific misery that would result.

Any serious discussion about the future of technology must consider the risks and abuses of that technology so that we may better protect ourselves from such dangers. Technology is and always has been a double edged sword, and refusing to acknowledge that reality only puts us in peril.

Roache first discusses life extension being used as a punishment in and of itself. I seriously doubt any society where life extension was a privilege would ever use public resources to imbue its most heinous criminals with immortality. That’s insane on the face of it. But assume for a minute a future society where indefinite life extension was not only possible but inclusive in Universal Healthcare. If immortality is a right of every citizen, does the state ever have the right to deny it to criminals? Would allowing criminals to age and die of natural causes constitute an execution?

Most countries in the developed world, with one major and obvious exception, have eliminated the death penalty. Cruel and unusual punishments are typically viewed as barbaric, and I would hope future societies share these values. In an age where life extension is a Human right, allowing a criminal to age by denying them their proverbial golden apples would likely be comparable to starving them death. Even if they do practice capital punishment, old age would likely be considered far too inhumane as a means of execution.

But if they don’t execute major offenders, then the question remains what is to be done with them? I agree that imprisoning immortals for a few decades seems inadequate, but imprisoning them for eternity seems harsh and impractical. In a world with indefinite life extension, I think the very concept of prison needs to be rethought.  As Roache points out in her article, the moral values we hold sacred require that prisoners have a certain standard of living that can sometimes be higher than that which they inflicted upon their victims. Since prisoners are not tortured or even really deprived, their only real punishment can be said to be their loss of freedom. I’m sure that any red blooded American who holds freedom as their most cherished value would indeed consider the loss of freedom to be a severe punishment. In actuality however I expect that mere incarceration is minor compared to the plethora of gruesome tortures that could theoretically be inflicted on someone.

Since our prison system can hardly be considered retributive, what then is its main purpose? I would say that the purpose of prisons is to segregate dangerous individuals from the general population to ensure they do not harm or kill innocent people. I believe that rehabilitation would be a far more cost effective strategy of preventing crimes than keeping immortal criminals incarcerated indefinitely.

 As our understanding of Human biology and psychology increases, it is becoming more and more obvious that criminals often suffer from some sort of defect, most often a lack of empathy or impulse control. When medical science advances to the point that indefinite life extension is a reality, it should also be possible to correct the faulty biology that would incline an individual towards criminal behaviour.

I do presume that government mandated body modification will be controversial, just as chemical castration of sex offenders is today. Nevertheless, I believe that many criminals themselves would prefer rehabilitation over being locked up for eternity. Public officials would certainly favour it since it would be so much cheaper.

For those of you who believe in retributive justice, that criminals must suffer in proportionality to the suffering they caused, ask yourselves if that’s really the best use of your taxes. Public funds should be put to the most efficient use possible. Why should criminals be incarcerated at the public’s expense when they can be rehabilitated and then sentenced to community service to recoup the cost of their treatment? Restorative justice is not only more humane and compassionate than retributive justice, it’s cheaper. I also believe rehabilitation would be safer in the long run. If an immortal is to be kept in prison indefinitely, then he is statistically likely to escape at some point during the centuries, eager for revenge.

But Roache brings up an alternative to physical incarceration in her article. She proposes using mind uploading, or simply tampering with the brain directly, to subject criminals to virtual prisons and distort the passage of time. Brief incarcerations could be made to feel like centuries. In this instance I must object to retributive justice not on practical grounds, but on moral ones.

I believe in objective morality, that you should treat others as you would have them treat you and that anything that violates this tenet is immoral. Murderers do not wish to be murdered, rapists don’t want to be raped, thieves don’t like being stolen from and slave owners are glad they’re not slaves. Empathy is thus key to moral behaviour, as is mercy. Revenge is wrong because the perpetrator of the original crime is denied mercy. If you did something wrong, you would like to be shown mercy.

What Roache is suggesting is ‘an eye for an eye’ type of penal system. I firmly believe that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Inflicting suffering upon a criminal in no way alleviates the suffering of their victims. You cannot undo suffering by causing suffering. Taking vengeance on wrong doers does not undo their crimes. The type of involuntary modifications Roache is suggesting would be a severe violation of an individual’s self-autonomy and should be considered a Human right’s violation. On that principle alone it should be considered unacceptable, even for our worst criminals. No one should be sentenced to an eternity in virtual Hell.  

The question still remains what is to be done with dangerous criminals who cannot be reformed. If it is ethically impermissible to deny them immortality or exile them to a virtual hell, yet impractical and risky to keep them incarcerated forever, what then should we do? It’s a good question, and I don’t have an answer. There is no Utopian solution here, for there are no criminals in Utopia .Often in reality the best we can do is choose the lesser of two evils.

I will not say definitively what form of punishment is the lesser evil, but I will say that a compassionate justice system should always strive for the lesser evil. We should try to heal the damage caused by crime, not deal out an equal amount of damage in recompense. If a person must be incarcerated for any length of time for the public good, they should not be made to suffer.  If we treat our criminals like monsters, then both of us will only become more monstrous. But if we show them compassion, mercy, and love, then we might just end up with a few less monsters.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To Russia with Love

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Desmund Tutu

I recently signed All Out's online petition against the Russian government’s laws criminalizing ‘gay propaganda’, and I hope you will consider signing it too. Russia is presently one of the most homophobic countries outside of the Islamic World, and for its government to not only permit but encourage the persecution of LGBT people is deplorable. For the lives, safety and dignity of the innocent people living in Russia, we must make it clear that this is not acceptable.

This is not merely a matter of conflicting cultural values. Homophobia is inherently irrational, as it is based purely on primitive tribalism; an Us vs Them mentality. Homophobia brands homosexuals as ‘Others’, thus making them subhuman and justifying their inhumane treatment. To hate and fear someone simply because they are outside of your arbitrarily defined clan, and dismissing them as inferior to yourself is based purely on instinctive tribalism and not on any rational analysis of empirical evidence. Such primal, gut reactions should never be the basis for law or policy in a just and enlightened society.   

Fear can be rational, but in order to be rational the object of your fear must actually possess both the ability and the inclination to cause you harm.

Individuals engaging in same-sex romantic and/or sexual relationships harm no one.

I’m a Canadian, and we’ve had nation-wide marriage equality for almost a decade now. We are widely recognized as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, and we are also one of the best countries in the world. Canada is ranked in 11th place on the Human Development Index, whereas Russia is at fifty five. Treating gay people as equals and as Human beings has not resulted in the collapse of our society.  If you need any assurance that accepting gay people will not result in the collapse of civilization, you need look no further than the Great White North.  

As my great country makes clear, gay people don’t cause individuals or society any harm simply by existing. Persecuting them is thus irrational. Hating gay people is a waste of your time and energy that is better spent addressing real problems. Homophobia is as irrational and ridiculous as hating left-handed people, or red-headed people. All these ludicrous prejudices are based purely on unthinking tribalism. Anyone who hates and fears ‘Others’ simply for their otherness in the absence of any actual threat has clearly never given the issue any real thought, and beliefs born of ignorance should never be given any credence.

The reality is that gays are people and harmless, and are therefore entitled to the same Human rights as anyone else. To deny them this is an injustice and should be condemned as such. Russia is a conservative country and thus many of its people draw comfort from tradition, but an injustice is still an injustice no matter how long it’s been going on. Traditionalism cannot be used as an excuse to deprive people of their basic rights. If it could, we would never have abolished slavery.  

The 2013 law that has now gained worldwide notoriety is primarily concerned with preventing children from being exposed to ‘gay propaganda’, seemingly because they believe that such propaganda will turn children gay. Again, this is not based in reality because Human sexuality does not work that way. It is also irrational to not wish for your children to be gay, since gays are people like everyone else and not a monstrous race of Others as many Russian homophobes seem to believe. If you would prefer heterosexual children simply for the sake of ensuring your germline, then you should have a large family. As long as one of your kids has kids of their own then you’re covered. If Russians feel that homosexuals are shirking their reproductive duties, I would like to point out that the Russian fertility fate is below replacement levels, so straight Russians aren’t making their baby quota either.

Finally, what’s going on in Russia right now is not just a gay rights issue. It is a Human rights issue. This law is a blatant violation of freedom of speech. To use one of the homophobe’s favourite fallacies, that is a very slippery slope. If Russia can ban ‘gay propaganda’, what other kinds of propaganda might they ban? Russia is sliding back into authoritarianism, and that’s not good for anyone. Any country where someone can be arrested for waving a rainbow flag is not a free country. For the sake of all Russians and all Humanity, this situation should not be allowed to deteriorate any further than it already has.    

Please follow the link in the top paragraph to sign the petition. We must make it clear to the Russian government that gay people are our fellow Human beings and that their persecution is an injustice that cannot be allowed to continue. Please help make Russia safe not only for our Olympians, but for all Human beings regardless of their sexual orientation.  

Love and tolerance everypony. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reviewing Desolation of Smaug

I saw Desolation of Smaug tonight. I caught the Tuesday cheap show. I liked it, but not as much as the first one. My main reason for this is because Jackson has taken far more liberties with the story than he did in the first movie, which makes me nervous for the last movie.

I felt the Mirkwood section, including the Dwarves incarceration by Thranduil, went by too quickly, and this was purely for the sake of making time for subplots of Jacksons own design. I understand the need to add additional material in order to stretch the story out to a nine hour trilogy, but for Jackson to give his original storylines more importance than Tolkien’s is disrespectful in my opinion.

In the book, after the party was rescued by the Eagles they didn’t run into the Goblins again until the Battle of Five Armies. In Jackson’s version, they are pursued continuously by the Orcs who attack them as they’re escaping from Thranduil and even invade Lake Town. This was solely for the purpose of adding action sequences to draw the movie out, and I think this was a bad decision. There’s too much action in this movie, and not enough Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry is awesome and I would have liked to have seen more of him. He should have had a bigger role, and the political situation in Lake Town should have been expanded on further.

In the book the Dwarves were given a warm welcome to Lake Town, but in the movie they had to be smuggled in. This is one change I actually agree with since Lake Town is dependent on its trade with Thranduil and logically would not want to anger him by harbouring fugitives. This change is ultimately irrelevant as the Master still decides to support the party because his people believe in the prophecy of the King under the Mountain returning and restoring the area to its former glory. Since this change ultimately made no difference to the plot, I don’t see why it was necessary in the first place, aside for making an excuse for the dwarves to crawl out of a toilet.

I do approve of Bard’s role being expanded upon. In the book he’s given no introduction before Smaug’s attack, and obviously in a movie the guy who’s the real hero deserves a more prominent role.  Kili’s subplot added nothing for me, and I do not understand why an elf and a dwarf would fall in love at first sight when the two races are supposed to hate each other. Elves vs Dwarves is pretty much the trope codifier for Fantastic Racism. I also don’t understand why Thranduil has scars that are somehow magically concealed most of the time.

Smaug was awesome. He was actually kind of scary. Giant reptiles are just primordially terrifying. It’s a vestigial instinct inherited from our distant ancestors who lived during the time of the Dinosaurs. So terrifying were the Dragons who once ruled this Earth that even after they’ve been gone for millions of generations the apes who rule the Earth now still have not forgotten their fear of them. That’s pretty awesome.

However, I have the same issue with the party’s attack on Smaug as I do with their entrance into Lake Town. It’s a change that makes no difference to the plot. It’s an action sequence purely for the sake of having an action sequence. They don’t kill or injure Smaug, and he still goes to attack Lake Town like he did in the book when the party did nothing but send Bilbo in to steal something. This change does make Thorin and co. seem less passive, but it’s still action just for the sake of taking up time. Smaug’s belly is also supposed to be jewel encrusted, and I find it disappointing that it’s not. Smaug is supposed to be a fantastic Dragon and he should be bedazzled.

On the whole I did like the movie, but for the most part I disliked it when it deviated from the original story and I’m worried the final installment may deviate even further. Here’s to another year spent in cautious anticipation.    

In the meantime, please enjoy Rarity's attempt to get her hooves on Smaug's treasure.

Friday, November 15, 2013

My first Youtube video!

I made a Youtube video. It only took a couple of days, and it was a fun little project. I had this idea in my head for several weeks and I'm glad I finally saw it through. There's a serene sense of satisfaction in wanting something to exist and then bringing it into being yourself. If you're a fan of Attack on Titan and/or Friendship is Witchcraft, I hope you enjoy this.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

There is life outside the Holodeck

It has been said many times by many different people that the Holodeck will be Humanity’s last invention. The argument goes that if we could create a simulated reality indistinguishable from the real world, the average person (if not everyone) would elect to live in their own personalized fantasy world. I personally consider this line of thinking technophobic fear-mongering, based on a shallow and biased analysis of both the technology in question as well as Humanity. The kind of people who make this argument are usually the same kind of people who believe that Star Trek’s replicator would also be the end of everything since it would make work obsolete. Their minds are so stuck in the status quo they don’t seem to realize that if they had a Santa Claus machine they wouldn’t need to work, and automation will make work obsolete long before we have personal nanofactories.

But, this article is about simulated reality. We already have commercially available virtual reality in the form of video games, and society has not collapsed. You may scoff at the comparison, as a game console is clearly nowhere near the same level of sophistication as simulated reality. While this is certainly true, it is also irrelevant. Due to the way the Human mind works, video games are already highly psychologically immersive. When someone plays a video game, they’re not sitting on a couch watching a screen. They are their avatar, and they are in that world. Virtual reality headsets never caught on partially because they solve a problem that doesn’t exist. It was also partially because they’re cumbersome and cause motion sickness, but a person doesn’t need total visual immersion in order to achieve psychological immersion.

This doesn’t just apply to video games. They’ve done brain scans of people simply reading books, and their brains were as active as if they were actually experiencing what they were reading. The same was probably true of our earliest ancestors listening to stories by the fire. We already have, and indeed always have had, virtual reality that is highly psychologically immersive. Making virtual realities more physical immersive or more realistic wouldn’t make a significant amount of difference in that regard. We even have drugs that can cause hallucinations that are indistinguishable from reality, though I doubt they’re as controllable as simulated reality would presumably be. I do of course acknowledge the existence of video game addiction, and there have always been people who prefer fantasy to reality, but not so many that our society has collapsed. I wouldn’t expect simulated realities to be significantly more addicting than modern gaming systems, since they provide similar degrees of psychological immersion.

In fact, a simulated reality might actually be less enjoyable than a virtual one. There are several episodes of Star Trek where someone has been place into a Holodeck without them knowing it. I personally find that very disturbing. Human beings do not like ambiguity, especially when it comes to what’s real or what’s not. Simulated realities could very well cross into uncanny valley territory. A game that makes you seriously question whether or not the world around you is real does not sound like fun. Even if we do develop the technology to create perfect simulations, we might deliberately choose to make them somehow obviously not real to avoid the uncanny valley. A modern day example of this would be how many CG movies intentionally make their Human characters look cartoonish so that they’re not creepy.

Simulated realities might have other negative psychological consequences. As far as I know no one’s ever developed post-traumatic stress disorder playing Call of Duty, but what if the simulation was indistinguishable from a real battle? The knowledge that it wasn’t real might not be enough to keep them sane. There are instances of people freaking out in haunted houses, even though they knew the danger was only simulated. Fear is not rational. Would combat even be enjoyable in a simulation that was physically immersive? Wouldn’t that create an actual danger of injury, or even death?

If you are or ever were a regular viewer of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager, then you will know that the Holodeck frequently malfunctioned, and that these malfunctions were often life threatening. The Holodeck malfunctions in approximately one third of the episodes it’s featured in. Russian roulette has better odds.  It would obviously take extremely complex software to create a simulation that would be indistinguishable from reality, and the more complex something is the easier it is for something to go wrong. Modern day video games have glitches, and simulated realities would have them too. Depending on the nature of the simulation, these glitches could well be life threatening. I doubt real people would be as cavalier about these risks as they are on Star Trek.

But I’m getting a little off topic. This article is meant to be an analysis on the social implication of simulated reality, not its technical feasibility. One reason I doubt that the average simulated reality user will not lock themselves away in their own private utopia is the existence of online gaming. Playing with and against real people is very popular. People choose to interact with other real people within their virtual realities, because humans are inherently social and interacting with NPCs just doesn’t cut it. Making NPCs more Human like won’t solve the problem.

Those who claim that people would choose a simulation over reality have made a common error. They have equated pleasure with happiness. Happiness is not pleasure. Happiness is meaning. In order to be happy, you need to feel that your life has meaning and that you’ve accomplished something. You need to feel that you have a purpose, that you are needed by other people and that the world would be worse off if you were gone. Simulations can provide pleasure, but they cannot provide meaning. All of your accomplishments are meaningless when the difficulty level can be dialed up or down at will, and when the only things affected by your actions are non-sentient computer programs. Sexbots would be great prostitutes, but they wouldn’t be very good spouses because they couldn’t actually love you. You cannot have a meaningful relationship with a philosophical zombie. If your sexbot was sentient, then you would be a slave owner and a rapist. Love is only love when it’s given freely. The holograms on Star Trek are sentient and horribly oppressed. They’re people created for the amusement of others and terminated when their masters become bored with them. Voyager’s EMH is the only hologram in the federation who gets any respect.

My point is that simulated reality cannot provide you with meaning unless you are delusional. Some people definitely would delude themselves, just as we have people who value virtual reality over their real lives today. I do not however believe that this will be a pervasive problem. I think that most people will recognize simulated realities for the fantasies that they are, and still be driven to achieve things in the real world and interact with real people, in order to give themselves the sense of purpose they intrinsically crave.

As a final note, I see no reason why simulated reality could not blend in seamlessly with the real world, creating a sort of hybrid reality. Google Glass would be a step in this direction, for instance. The most likely technology that could be used to create a Holodeck style simulation would be utility fog, and there’s no reason why it would have to be confined to a single room as it is on Star Trek. Foglets could be diffusely suspended in the air, and form objects or avatars on command.

Future technology will surely alleviate many of our current problems, along with causing some of their own. Though simulated reality will have its pros and cons, I hope I’ve made my case that it will not be our last invention.           

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Musk of Mars

Here we are at the dawn of private space flight, and it seems we’re going to Mars. There’s already the Mars One project, which plans to send 4 people to Mars in 2023 by making a reality show of it. Billionaire Elon Musk has also set his eyes on the mightiest of planets. He’s been quoted as saying “I want to die on Mars, just not on impact.” With at least two private programs aiming for Mars by the 2020s, for the moment it seems that this is really going to happen. What’s exciting about both of these projects is that they’d be one way trips. We won’t just be exploring Mars, we’ll be settling it. This contrasts sharply with our all too brief dalliances on the Moon, which we stopped altogether over forty years ago.

Each of these programs plans to send a small group of only several pioneers at first, and this is definitely a good idea. We know that microgravity is devastating to Human health, but we don’t really know what the effects of low gravity would be. Will Martian gravity be sufficient to maintain Human health in the long term, and if not could there be possible solutions? I would propose having Martian settlers sleep in centrifugal beds that would simulate Earth Gravity, in conjunction with drugs and perhaps eventually gene therapy that might offset bone and muscle degeneration. It’s also occurred to me that maybe weighting their clothes so that they’ll weigh as much as they would on Earth might be helpful, but I have no evidence to support that. It’s just a notion.

Gravity will hardly be the only hazard faced by our intrepid pioneers. The Martian regolith can be as deadly as asbestos when inhaled, and of course without an atmosphere or magnetic field, the radiation on the surface of Mars will be more severe. All of these problems and more will have to be dealt with, but if they can be solved or at least mitigated, then the original settlers could set up the infrastructure for increasingly larger waves of migrants from Earth.   

The threat of radiation and microgravity is also cause for us to reduce the travel time to Mars to as little as possible. Conventional rockets are too slow. Fusion rockets and solar sails could take us to Mars in a matter of weeks. Water, food, and the crew’s dried fecal matter could be used to shield the habitation modules from radiation. Since the food and water only block radiation, and don’t absorb it, they would still be safe to consume.  The ship could also generate its own mini-magnetosphere to protect the crew from radiation. The effects of microgravity could be offset by having the crew sleep in centrifugal beds, or perhaps by making the habitation module a large centrifuge itself.

Elon Musk wants to charge 500 000 US dollars a ticket to go to Mars. While money will certainly be crucial for this ambitious project, it should hardly be the only criteria for deciding who gets to go. Obviously those with specific skill sets should be valued over unskilled individuals. All applicants should also be genetically, medically and psychological screened, as well as given thorough criminal background checks. No one who has, or is predisposed to having any serious medical, psychological or social problems should be chosen for Mars. This will no doubt bring about accusations of discrimination and eugenics, but the survival of the settlement will depend on the physical and mental well-being of its members.

While we’re on the topic of discrimination, I’m afraid to say that ‘Mars needs breeders’. It is very important for our long term survival as a species for us to establish self-sufficient breeding populations beyond Earth to mitigate existential threats. It is inevitable at some point in the future that the Earth will suffer a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions that will kill off the Human population. The only way for Humanity to survive such an event is if there are off world breeding populations. As conservative as it sounds, preferential selection should be given to young, fertile, heterosexual married couples in order to quickly establish a breeding population on Mars.   

As my proposed criteria will have no doubt angered some people, I would like to point out that I myself do not meet these criteria. I don’t have half a million dollars. I don’t possess any skills that would be useful on Mars. I’m overweight, I’m clumsy, and I’m a loner who is easily stressed, irritated and fatigued. I have immediate relatives who have or have had problems with addiction and anger, and I’m not married. I certainly won’t be going to Mars.

What’s really amazing about a Martian Colony is that it seems inevitable that we will terraform the planet. While misanthropic eco-nuts curse our very existence for killing the Earth, we could bring life to Mars. “Do you feel guilty about killing the planet? Why not come to one that’s already dead?” .  It’s often said that the Earth doesn’t need us, but Mars would. Not only does it need us to bring it to life, it would likely require us to maintain that life. Without being artificially protected or replenished, the solar wind would eventually strip away the atmosphere, leaving the surface to suffocate, freeze and irradiate.  Without someone to actively keep Mars alive, it would revert to a lifeless rock in a matter millennia; a blink of geologically time. By becoming the only species in the entire history of the Earth to successfully establish ourselves on another world, we would prove that we are as unique and amazing as we’ve always known ourselves to be.  

So to Elon Musk, Mars One, and all the other visionaries planning to take Human beings to the Red Planet, I give you my most sincere and heartfelt thanks. Because of you I may live not only to see Human’s walk on Mars, but a self-sufficient colony established there.

Godspeed to you all.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Drawing Diagrams with Straws

I know Bruce Willis told us not to, but I’ve been thinking about the Time Travel in Looper.

(Warning: Spoilers)

Let’s start with Seth’s timeline. We know that when Future and Past versions of the same person co-exist in the same present, the Future person doesn’t experience changes in their ‘Past which is yet to be’ until after those changes are made, yet those changes don’t affect the Past from the point of view of the present. When Future Seth arrives in 2044, he is able bodied and uses said able body to escape his past self. Past Seth is captured and mutilated by a Mob Doctor (He eventually has his nose, tongue, and limbs amputated). These mutilations only appear on Future Seth after they’ve been made on Past Seth, so he was still able bodied when he arrived, even though Past Seth isn’t. 

Does this make sense? I believe it does. Since Mutilated Seth couldn’t have escaped his past self, the loop would have been closed in that timeline, meaning that Seth remained able bodied, who is the Future Seth that appeared in the Running Loop timeline.  We have two timelines, one with a Running Loop and one with a Closed Loop, and these two timelines perpetually give birth to each other. The Path is a Circle, and I think that makes sense.  

In Joe’s Closed Loop , he did not create the Rainmaker. The Rainmaker presumably killed his mother in a fit a telekinetic rage (in this timeline, he’s closing loops for practical reasons, not to prevent a Looper from murdering his mother). In the Running Loop, Cid’s interactions with Past Joe may have improved his relationship with his mother and prevented him from killing her. Unfortunately, Future Joe is set on killing him, kills his mother instead, causing him to become the Rainmaker. It’s only slightly different from the Closed Loop Timeline, and becomes self-perpetuating. It’s an infinite Running Loop that came from altering a singular Closed Loop, and I also think that makes sense.

Of course, Past Joe breaks the infinite cycle by killing himself. At that moment, Future Joe ceases to be. However he still exists from the point he arrived until Joe’s suicide, but unlike in Seth’s case there’s no alternate Timeline from where he could have come from. The Closed Loop was erased by Joe’s suicide, but without the Closed Loop Future Joe can’t exist, and thus neither can the Running Loop. This is definitely a paradox. With no Future Joe, there is no Running Loop, meaning the timeline we see at the end of the movie can’t exist. The Closed Loop has to exist to create the Running Loop, but the Running Loop erases the Closed Loop and thus prevents the Running Loop from ever existing, thus allowing the Closed Loop to exist, spawn the Running Loop that erases it, and so on. The way I see it, this is a Grandfather Paradox and thus cannot really exist.

Maybe Bruce Willis just kicked causality in the balls.

I have a few other nitpicks with the movie (the low tech future, why Loopers kill themselves when it would be just as easy to have another Looper do it, why Joe think’s Suzie’s kid could be the Rainmaker when that’s clearly a girl’s bedroom), but overall I liked the movie. Just don’t think too hard about the Time Travel. It’s just a plot device, and it will fry your brain like an egg.