Psycho-Pass as a whole interests on a conceptual level. But there’s one aspect in particular I’d like to draw special attention to, and that is the weapon used by the Inspectors and Enforcers in the series, the Dominator.
Not only is this gun designed to identify who is holding it and determine if it is the authenticated person enlisted to use it, capable of denying access to anyone other than that person, but it’s also wirelessly connected to the Sibyl System which in turn allows it to read the psychological data (or Psycho-Pass) of whoever it is aimed at, and assess the mental stability or potential threat of the target individual.
Dominators function under the Sibyl System’s rule. So the plausibility of them existing without such a system to help them function would work is highly unlikely, but I won’t dismiss any counter-claims that prove otherwise. Why do I think the Dominators are cool and preferable to firearms in our world? Well, they have different modes from Non-Lethal Paralyzer (the most appealing aspect of the gun, for me personally) to Lethal Eliminator to Destroy Decomposer, which the user has no control over as the gun itself decides, based on the target being directed toward, what mode to approach the target with depending on their threat level. To me, this is preferable to real world firearms where while there is a safety, anybody who picks up a gun can still deliberately or accidentally trigger the gun and cause a lethal action, possibly resulting in someone’s injury or death.
And the Dominator’s standard mode is the Non-Lethal Paralyzer, meant to fire energy bursts as a means of incapacitating and capturing suspects safely and bring them into custody, reducing the risk of exceeding the required level of harm and accidentally severely injuring or killing them, as real firearms are prone to do. It’s only when the crime coefficient of someone exceeds a certain level to the point where they are more likely to commit a violent act, does the Dominator change modes and become more dangerous. Fortunately, if the person’s crime coefficient doesn’t exceed those levels, the safety device will remain active and prevent the user from firing, which is what makes the gun so damn appealing to me. User intentions are limited to what is considered by the gun and system, the appropriate action required to handle the situation.
Dominators only transform into a different, more lethal mode when the target’s crime coefficient exceeds 300 points (Lethal Eliminator) and a separate mode specialized for dealing with armored targets (Destroy Decomposer) and as a possible means of creating entry points into buildings. Technology like this deeply interests me. I would very much love to see something similar become more commonplace and eventually completely replace lethal firearms as the standard tool against crime, because life is precious and the current system and methods are clumsy and dangerous. Here, with the Dominators there is such a strong restriction set in place that the user cannot intentionally or unintentionally override the automated mode, with the only option on the user’s part being whether to fire or not. However, it will not work if the Dominator is not connected (wirelessly) to the Sibyl System.
The catch-22 about the Dominators is that they are part of the Sibyl System and only work in conjunction with it, as this is how they are able to read the crime coefficients of people in order to determine their threat level and thus automate to the appropriate mode required to subdue, injure, or kill them given the situation and crime coefficient level of the subject. So, as good an idea as it might seem, the Dominators appear to rely on a system in place for them to work properly. And (unfortunately) we have no such system in place. Now as good or bad an idea the Sibyl System may be in theory, it’s the execution outside of fiction that I’d be more worried about, considering our current technological advances, failings, and problems in-between. But even in the realm of Psycho-Pass, where the society is at this point expected to be ideal, there exists people like Makishima who register as anomalies, outsiders to the system and are able to get away with crime because their pathology is assessed as acceptable no matter what they do.
This is where I’m admittedly hypocritical about the prospect of such a system governing our society just so these guns I’m so fascinated by become actualized. As much as I’d like to have a system in place where everyone’s psychological condition is continuously being read and assessed so I can go about my day without having to worry about being the victim of criminal activity, I’m at the same time uncomfortable about the idea of my every move and thought potentially being judged as unacceptable, and consequently being labelled mentally unstable and unfit for society. Especially since I imagine the initial phase of our equivalent of the Sibyl System being objectionably flawed and too discriminatory for anyone to be comfortable living under. I could see there being a lot of misinterpretations of psychological readings and many otherwise mentally stable people being wrongly assessed, judged unfairly, and treated inappropriately. Ideally, this phase would be quickly rectified or be properly tested before being integrated into society, so as to avoid such severe drawbacks. But I am very skeptical about that being done in actuality.
So, I suppose I’m of two minds on this. I think Dominators are an awesome idea that I believe would be more cost-beneficial in regards to saving lives and reducing crime, and I’d love to see being made and implemented in reality, but can’t think of their viability being possible without something comparable to the Sibyl System managing them. And I feel torn about living through early iterations of such a society, as I don’t trust it to function as well as it seems to in Psycho-Pass (or even close to that) considering the state of our current society appears to be wavering in a less optimistic direction at the moment. Also the thought of having to constantly maintain a healthy Psycho-Pass everyday sounds incredibly stressful and I would probably inevitably be unable to handle it. So the more I think about it, the less utopian it sounds.
What do you think? Would it be possible for the Dominator to exist in our world without the need of a system that changes the foundation of society? Or is it not worth it if it means building a society run by something like the Sibyl System? Do you think the Dominator could work without the need for a system like that? Please share with me your thoughts on the matter. I’d be very interested in reading your thoughts. And check out Psychime’s posts on Psycho-Pass, as he discusses some interesting ideas about the show as well.