If you are reading this, it means you have a certain interest in robotics and robots. We are often asked by people we meet if we have seen this or that movie about robots, our opinion about the story, and if we rent robots like that.
Well, those are tricky questions. We do watch movies with robots (even though it is sometimes hard to keep up) and we do love them (how could we not).
Although, it is important to keep in mind that the cinema industry can also serve us badly. Indeed, in most movies, robots are the bad guys that basically end up killing everyone and everything to break free from their chains (= human beings). It creates a common anxiety and people are rather afraid of robots.
We regrouped our teams and debated about the best movies we had watched. This piece will give you a nice glimpse of what you can (and should) watch. Oh and, remember that the robots in those stories are not real: this is FICTION.
Although there are quite a lot of movies about robots, they are not all worth watching (well, that's our opinion). We picked three movies that we thought were enjoyable, taking an interesting angle on various challenges and concerns that robots bring up, as well as giving a nice representation of robotics (oh yes, badass robots!).
Robot & Frank
Set in the near future, an aging ex-convict and thief named Frank lives alone and is experiencing increasingly serious mental deterioration and dementia. Frank's son Hunter, an attorney with a family of his own, grows tired of making weekly visits to his father's home, but is reluctant to put his father into fulltime care, so he purchases a robot companion, which is programmed to provide Frank with therapeutic care, including a fixed daily routine and cognitive enhancing activities like gardening. Initially wary of the robot's presence in his life, Frank warms up to his new companion when he realizes the robot is not programmed to distinguish between legal recreational activities and criminal ones, and can assist him in lock-picking. Together, the two commit a heist in order to win the affection of the local librarian.
We had a huge crush for this movie. It reflects the interaction that a human and a robot can have. If at the beginning of the movie Frank rejects the machine: "It is gonna kill me in my sleep", he makes an emotional connection to it in the end: "I need him, he is my friend". The movie also shows a poetic image of what the Robot As A Service industry could become in the next few decades.
It is not a blockbuster, and you will definitively enjoy the strong characters that lead the story, it's even emotional for some part of it.
Ex Machina is the story of a gifted computer coder named Caleb. After he won the chance to spend the week at the house/secret facility of the CEO of the company he works for (Nathan), he discovers that this latter has been working on developing a set of humanoids. Caleb's mission is to perform a live "Turing Test" on Ava (the new humanoid artificial intelligence) but things don't go exactly as planned.
Remember when we said some movies could serve us badly. Well here is one of the kind. Don't get us wrong, it is a great movie that we enjoyed watching a lot. But the robot looks like the bad guy in the eyes of the general public. Ex Machina raises questions about ethics. Should an AI be considered as a person? ... Actually we would really like to have your opinion about this question.
If Ex Machina serves us badly, rest assured, it is science fiction. Robots are not that advanced (yet) and won't likely kill people to break free.
Last but not the least. Although it is starting to be quite old, we didn't feel like we could write an article about robots in the cinema industry without dealing with the best of them all: I, Robot.
The movie transports you in 2035, technophobic homicide detective Del Spooner of the Chicago PD heads the investigation of the apparent suicide of leading robotics scientist, Dr. Alfred Lanning. Unconvinced of the motive, Spooner's investigation into Lanning's death reveals a trail of secrets and agendas within the USR (United States Robotics) corporation and suspicions of murder. Little does he know that his investigation would lead to uncovering a larger threat to humanity.
Well ... well ... There is a lot to say about it. It is probably one of the finest action-pack science fiction movie. We strongly advice you to watch it (if you haven't) because it will blow your mind. You also get attached to the robot, even the "bad ones". If I, Robot shows a machine getting self-aware, it also implies a whole set of rules that regulates robots' behavior, to help humans on a daily basis.
There are not as many TV shows about robots as robot movies. We still managed to watch quite a few episodes and two tv shows really caught our attention.
In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant that's so similar to a real human it's transforming the way we live.
This TV show happens in our present day. Although it is impossible to have such sophisticated robots nowadays, it gives a nice glimpse of what the future of hospitality robots could be (conditional tense is used on purpose here as well). It also raises a lot of moral questions about AI and what we should do with it, or what they should do with themselves.
The story is being lead by very strong characters (robots and humans). It is definitely a scifi story worth watching.
A series inspired by the 1973 film of the same title written by Michael Crichton about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings.
The parallels of this show with our activity are almost too good. If the trailer made you think the action is simply a western thriller, you have been misled. Westworld is a theme park which sets in a near-future (the technology seems quite advanced). It is filled with "Hosts" (humanoids) programmed to achieve "narratives". Basically, People (like future you or future me) go to the park to be immersed in a western-like world. They follow stories with challenges, just like in a video game. If it's strictly speaking event management, the purpose is the same: entertaining people with human-machine interactions.
The Hosts are completely interactive and autonomous. It is everything we work everyday for. However, we can't help thinking that the Hosts look way too human (you can't tell the difference) and this is not what we wish to attain.
Thank you for reading us. We do hope you enjoyed the movie we shared and along with our honest opinions. If you have something to say, please comment. We love feedback and we love to share. We will keep posting articles about movies, TV shows and robots.
And remember, robots do not kill people. That's pure Hollywood fantasy.