Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

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Bluebell1995
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Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Bluebell1995 » 9 months ago

It's been years since I posted a new topic here, but with the year 2022 coming closer, it got me thinking. Eight years from now, it will be 2030. That's the year the 1980s Astro Boy series was set in. The original manga was set even earlier: from 2003 to the mid-2010s. Those years are long gone in our real world.

When Osamu Tezuka first created ''Astro Boy'', it was way back in 1951. World War Two had just ended, society was changing, and technology becoming more ''modern''. Computers were getting more advanced (though they were huge and clunky, nothing like our modern laptops). In April 1951, when Osamu Tezuka was 22 years old (only a bit younger than I am now), he published ''Ambassador Atom''. Not long after that, ''Mighty Atom'' followed... in 1952. That's a whopping 70 years ago. (Most the adults who were alive back then are gone by now!)

In those stories, Osamu Tezuka envisioned a futuristic wonderland: a high-tech early 21st century in which lifelike, feeling machines co-existed with Mankind. Understandably, the Internet was absent from Tezuka's world; while robots and flying cars were commonplace. There were bad guys in the stories, many of them being either racist or power-hungry (sometimes both), but Atom always defeated them through his willpower and sense of justice. Sometimes there were cartoonish scenarios, such as evil aliens; but this is understandable because ''Astro Boy'' was written as a children's manga.

On the whole, it's a drastically different world from the 21st century society I grew up in.

So, considering all this, what WOULD Mr. Tezuka say about today's world if he were still alive?

Back in 2019, I was a university student. As the 2020s approached, I was both excited and nervous... I didn't know what to expect from the new decade. A few months into the year 2020, however, and the world was... unpredictable, to say the least. So many people have tragically passed away from Covid-19. Incidents of racism sprung up in many countries. On the Internet, bloggers were pouring out their depression onto their posts, their misery so palpable that even I could feel it from my side of the screen. Despite all this, technology marches on; with some scientists believing that advanced technological progress would cure all the world's problems. Lots of them mentioned artificial intelligence, and this got me thinking about Astro Boy again after leaving the fandom for all these years.

Didn't Tezuka complain at some point that people in his time were getting the message of ''Astro Boy'' all wrong? I recall reading in Tezuka's biography that he wanted to highlight the dangers of a supremely advanced society; but people were touting him as an optimist instead. If Tezuka saw today's world, would he be horrified? Maybe a bit excited about AI technology, but still nervous? I wonder what his thoughts on the current pandemic would be.

Most of all, I wonder what stories he would have written, in today's world.

(How would Atom cope in our real world, a world filled with iPhones and laptops... but no other Kokoro Robots?)

:astro: <---- I suppose he would be quite lonely: he'd have to hide his true identity as an android, at all costs. Kind of like in the 2009 film?

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Tetsuwan Penguin
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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Tetsuwan Penguin » 9 months ago

Many of the story plots in Tezuka's Mangas were echoed in those of motion pictures. For example, there was a story (I may not remember all of the plot correctly, and I certainly don't remember the episode title) in which a town hated robots, and took their anger out on Atom and another robot. Then two boys who liked the robots got themselves stuck in some pipes and Atom had to save them. Same climax as in "The Russians are Coming"
Spielberg's AI has its backstory based on Atom's. I'm sure there are other similar examples.
So Tezuka's ideas did make an impression on other writers.
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Bluebell1995
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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Bluebell1995 » 9 months ago

Tetsuwan Penguin wrote:Many of the story plots in Tezuka's Mangas were echoed in those of motion pictures. For example, there was a story (I may not remember all of the plot correctly, and I certainly don't remember the episode title) in which a town hated robots, and took their anger out on Atom and another robot. Then two boys who liked the robots got themselves stuck in some pipes and Atom had to save them. Same climax as in "The Russians are Coming"
Spielberg's AI has its backstory based on Atom's. I'm sure there are other similar examples.
So Tezuka's ideas did make an impression on other writers.


I watched Spielberg's ''AI: Artificial Intelligence'' when I was a kid. And oh boy, the ending was DEPRESSING. I still remember my much younger self thinking in horror, ''Wait! Hold on! Is David dead? Are all the humans gone, too? Does this mean Teddy will be all alone?'' Yeah. It was a fascinating film, but if I ever have a kid I won't let them watch it until they're well into their teens. I wouldn't want them to have an existential crisis as early as I did!

But yeah, I can definitely see references to Tezuka's work (or at least some similarities), in regards to the portrayal of robots... but ''AI: Artificial Intelligence'' is so bleak, almost without any sense of hope.

I wonder what Tezuka would think about that film. Given that he's been gone for such a long time now, I guess we'll never know the exact answer.

I've read loads of books by different authors since I left the forum in November 2014, but very few writers got me thinking deeply about human nature the way Tezuka's stories did. It's sad that most people outside of Japan don't have the foggiest clue who he is. My fondest ambition is to be a published author someday, and if that happens, I will cite Osamu Tezuka as being a huge influence on my work. That way, perhaps I'll be able to introduce a new generation of readers to ''Black Jack'', ''Astro Boy'', ''Phoenix'', and so on.

My conclusion: We can only guess what Tezuka would think of the real 21st century, but since we're the ones actually living in this generation, maybe we should make the most of it... using technology to do good, rather than waste time; and telling the stories that matter.

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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby teugene50 » 9 months ago

good choice

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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Atomheart » 3 months ago

I think Tezuka-sama would be saddened to see how little improvement we've made in ourselves, but perhaps he'd be hopefully excited about A.I. He gave us so much 1 I believe more and more people of all ages are discovering his work and realising what a gift to us his talent was. As for other creators - I think his ideas were deeply influential. I think Mr. Spock and LT. Commander Data are extensions of Tezuka's concept, not being less for that but a natural evolution of an idea right for its time and the years following.

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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Bluebell1995 » 3 months ago

Atomheart wrote:I think Tezuka-sama would be saddened to see how little improvement we've made in ourselves, but perhaps he'd be hopefully excited about A.I. He gave us so much 1 I believe more and more people of all ages are discovering his work and realising what a gift to us his talent was. As for other creators - I think his ideas were deeply influential. I think Mr. Spock and LT. Commander Data are extensions of Tezuka's concept, not being less for that but a natural evolution of an idea right for its time and the years following.


Thanks for replying to my thread - it's been a few months since I wrote it; and admittedly I forgot that it existed until you replied!

Anyway, onto the point:

As much as I like the idea of intelligent robots, I think that humans should NOT attempt to create ''true AI''. We can barely manage our own bad behaviour; how can we expect to create intelligent artificial beings, and not mess it up? Either we'll fail to teach them ethical behaviour, or we'll turn around and mistreat them.

There are many aspiring ''Dr. Tenmas'' in real life who would LOVE to create an intelligent robot, but I highly doubt that such a situation would turn out well.

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Tetsuwan Penguin
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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Tetsuwan Penguin » 3 months ago

It's possible that a form of AI will be developed (and probably already has) that will be able to interact with people to a degree that it would be impossible to tell that you were NOT interacting with a machine. That would still not be a form of AI that would be truly self aware, or have free will. But it would make a good companion, especially for children.
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Bluebell1995
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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Bluebell1995 » 3 months ago

Tetsuwan Penguin wrote:It's possible that a form of AI will be developed (and probably already has) that will be able to interact with people to a degree that it would be impossible to tell that you were NOT interacting with a machine. That would still not be a form of AI that would be truly self aware, or have free will. But it would make a good companion, especially for children.


I agree. Most ''interactive robots'' are fine, and I'm sure they'll become a lot more interesting in the next few decades. It's only AGI (Artificial General Intelligence, a.k.a. sentient AI) that, in my opinion, might be dangerous in the real world.

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jeffbert
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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby jeffbert » 3 months ago

CRUSH, KILL, DESTROY! :lol:

I really believe that people will (if they can) develop general AI; if, for no other reason, than to see if they can.
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Re: Tezuka and Atom, and Our World in 2021

Postby Tobietta » 3 months ago

"So, considering all this, what WOULD Mr. Tezuka say about today's world if he were still alive?"

You have made a splendid reflection on the subject. I also think Osamu Tezuka would be shocked by the current world. Too evil and merciless for a sensitive soul like his. Among other things, I believe that, in the specific case of Astroboy, the relationship between man and robot is a metaphor for the relationship between us, animals and the nature that surrounds us. Both in the manga and in the anime, but especially in the manga, robots are mistreated and used only to serve the human being. A little of what, unfortunately, has been happening to animals since the dawn of time. Tezuka would also be shocked by the distorted and maniacal use of technology. The Internet should help us improve and not become a den of keyboard lions ready to attack anything and everyone.


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