Wednesday, February 2, 2011

7 Robots That Think They Are Better Than You

It seems to be a common theme that robots become self-aware (only the ones that can kill) and automatically think that they can run our lives. Then it becomes the job of one human, who has street smarts and grit, to be the one who shuts the robot down. Luckily, these are all movie examples and there are no programmed creations that think they are better than the rest of the world.

Okay, maybe there's a few.
 THE MATRIX--The Machines

History: The machines were once a faithful servant to the human beings.  The machines became self aware and then no longer wanted to become some Proto-Abraham Lincoln slave to the man.  They created a peaceful robot community in the middle of the desert (colonization) and proceeded to live out their lives with blender and toaster living in harmony.  But the man didn't want his vacuum to be living in an apartment without him, so he tried to nuke the colony.  This resulted in war, with the robots clearly winning via their robot drills and power lasers.  Man was used as batteries for the robot world, but at least we were put in an alternate reality called the Matrix.

The Problem:  We were clearly in the wrong for building machines that could feel and think for themselves. Then to fix the mistake we tried to destroy our creation.  It's very similar to the Genesis story where God gave man free will and man turned around and used it against him.  The only problem is that the robots made a fatal mistake.  They tried to control their creator as a way of fixing the problem.  They thought they could create a perfect world where the brain believed it was 1999.  Creation tried to fix the problem of coexistence, but in the process neglected the fact that humans strive for truth.  We don't want to live in a world that isn't the truth, even if the real world looks like a Denny's garbage disposal after the apocalypse.  The machine's overestimated us and we ended up choosing a hero who would lead us out of the digital Egypt.  This particular hero was bad at Shakespeare, but at least he has a black belt.

Who Won:
Humans!  You cannot hide the truth from us.

2001 SPACE ODYSEE- Hal9000

History:  Hal 9000 was a robot created by Dr. Chandra in 1997 for The Discovery, a spaceship that was heading toward Jupiter.  Hal was setup to be a conversational and polite assistant that opened doors and regulated oxygen.  This is not the kind of robot you want to make self-actualized.  Unfortunately, he was programmed to know the true secret of why the vessel was heading toward Jupiter, but he had a contradicting program loop that gave him emotions, paranoia and xenophobia.  He began to have Vista like errors, having fear of the confrontation with the Jupiter aliens and the desire to share the true reason for the Jupiter flight.  How did he solve this dilemma?  By destroying the crew of the ship he would be free of having to share the information.  Sounds like a win-win.

The Problem:   Hal was made to be self-actualizing with secret keeping powers and the ability to understand emotions.  Basically, you are taking an emotional entity and dropping secrets and the threat of war.  This is much worse than asking an LSD addict to find something in the basement.  Much like how our cognitive messes up and influences our emotions and then loops around to further mess with our cognitive, Hal9000 is an obcessive compulsive paranoid schizophrenic WITH THE ABILITY TO OPEN THE DOOR HATCHES AND CONTROL OXYGEN!  Basically, the crew is putting their lives in the hands of a homeless man with Vietnam syndrome.  But we can learn something from Hal 9000 in terms of emotions vs. cognitive thinking.  Cognitive thinking is what you believe and emotions are how you express them.  If one is imperfect it ultimately screws up the other one.

Who Won:
Hal 9000--because killing us all would keep us from learning the secret.


History:  Once again man thinks he can make robots so smart and helpful that they are able to help us with everyday tasks.  So man creates the robot that lives by three laws:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Sounds like a flawless plan.  We get the robots to change dirty diapers and they can't kick the crap out of us.  All this is regulated by a haunting robotic mainfame voice called V.I.KI.  With her in control she makes a startling discovery: human beings are idiots.  In fact, if she doesn't get her robot army together to beat the living junk out of us, we might do something stupid like use freewill.  Therefore, V.I.K.I thinks she is helping us live longer by obliterating us if we do not obey her curfew.  Luckily, we have the man who starred in Bagger Vance to save the day.

The Problem:  V.I.K.I had pure intentions and she thought she could enforce them on us.  In her binary world she believed that we would be sitting in a circle singing Kumbyah, while obeying a strict regiment of 9pm bedtimes and soy diets.  Usually a robot with that kind of an idea would be given a virtual wedgie, but this particular one has a megaton army at its disposal.  V.I.K.I follows the protocol of what the early church government did.  It started with the Jewish Pharisees that were so obsessed with getting on God's good side that they enforced rules that didn't make much sense.  This thinking later evolved into the papacy, where cardinals and priests were enforcing loyalty to the Catholic church by the end of a sword.  God takes a gamble with freewill, indubitably, but it involves freedom on our side and true love on his.  That's why V.I.K.I is not a good program for obedience.

Winner: Humans!  Let's face it, if the lead role of Bagger Vance can save us from humanity than it was not that bad of a threat.


Speaking of throw away Summer movies, Stealth is what happens when Jamie Fox, Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas get paid by our government to keep us safe.  Apparently the government wanted to correct that mistake as soon as possible by creating an artifical intelligent stealth fighter named EDI.  EDI finds out that he is quicker, smarter and a better pilot than the three and instantly makes up taunting songs to ridicule them for their lack of productivity.  What's worse is that EDI gets hit by lightning and turns into an evil monster hell bent on destroying America's enemies with extreme prejudice.  Apparently the warning sign should have read: "for least evil results, please keep out of lightning."  EDI tries to destroy a Chinese building with a bomb, when Jamie Fox explicitly tells EDI that killing innocent children is "Soooo Hitler."  EDI disobeys, continuing to believe that it is the bee's knees of stealth bombers.

The Problem:  Artificial Intelligence is usually supposed to believe that it is perfect and beneficial for human use.  EDI is different because he is a pompous jerkface.  In full knowledge of his superior skills, he flaunts his powers by disobeying  orders to stop killing people and to stop upstaging the "fast food actors."  Machines being complete jackholes are a new concept.  AI is known for being paranoid, self-righteous and idealistic, but never a jackhole.  We can also accredit EDI for destroying Jamie's career and for punching babies that are not as fast as he is.

The Winner:
EDI.  He redeems himself by saving Jessica Biel from North Korean terrorists and sacrificing himself in an explosion.  I would make the similarity to Jesus' sacrifice, but Jesus did not spend his career telling Peter that he was way better than him at walking on water.


The Grid is a computer based city that has spandex wearing neon people who represent programs.  The Grid begins to evolve and create little program babies called ISOs.  The mayor of Grid town, Clu, believes this to be an imperfection and vows to kill them all.  Somehow the movie tried to convey that message, but I ended up thinking, "Oh cool, a movie about Daft Punk."

The Problem:  ISOs are considered programs that have the ability to be created in the real world.  Clu, a program within the 80's arcade game, deems that any city that starts producing souls with real emotions and thoughts are considered imperfect.  This is also the stance that Hollywood takes.  I consider this reverse robot's disease.  Usually the robot tries to get human thoughts and emotions and immediately starts slaughtering everyone.  In this case, the robot hates the idea that his town could produce "real people."  Apparently, the Clu program was made to be super ultra anti progressive, which can be understood if you ever lived in New York while they had an election.  Clu's obsession with the imperfection makes for great philosophy over how our human side gives us personality and soul.  Freewill is a gift that makes us act differently.

The Winner:
Who cares, this was a movie about Daft Punk.

  EVENT HORIZON--Event Horizon

Tim Robbins and Laurence Fishburne play space crew who are sent to investigate a space ship that got lost in a warp hole and came back.  The ship is called the Event Horizon, which is either a sci-fi term or a motivational conference for sales people.  The ship had taken a short trip to Hell and became dark and demonic.  Now it wants to use manipulation and illusions of treachery to force the crew to become demonic as well.  Now besides the obvious metaphor that this is to Tim Robbin's Democratic stances, the ship is hell bent on poking out everyone's eyes and making them eager to go to Hell.  Perhaps Hell is a place where the comedy of the 3 Stooges is the only form of self expression.

The Problem:  Misery loves company.  If the Event Horizon went straight to Hell, why shouldn't the crew?  Similar to NYC transportation, the Event Horizon is a giant vessel that prefers that anyone who enters it suffer.  Usually when robots self actualize they have a purpose or a plan, but the Event Horizon is just lonely and wants everyone to enjoy it's hellacious death plunge.  The problem with Hell voyages is that not even God can stomach a trip to that place, so how dumb does a robot have to be to go back?  Maybe the movie was trying to be deep, but they stumbled on entertainment's obsession with Hell in the media.  Perhaps its the neon darkness of Hot Topic or the way Japanese anime uses demon conjurers in their cartoons, but theology has shown that Hell is never a good place.

The Winner
Humans.  Tim Robbins gets manipulated by the machine, becomes blind and dies.  

 THE VIRUS- Russian Vessel

If you haven't had enough movies about transportation becoming self-aware there's a boat that wants in on the action.  A team of rag tag tug boat experts find an abandoned Russian vessel.  Now this particular one has high tech gadgets (for 1999) and an alien life form that has infected it.  And unlike Event Horizon, where the captain of the ship is assimilated into the robot's representative, the captain of the tugboat becomes assimilated into the ship's representative (did I say unlike?  I meant exactly the same).  Now the ship is heading toward Hell...I mean a wicked storm and Jamie Lee Curtis has to save the day.

The Problem: See Event Horizon and add water.

The Winner
The boat, because it somehow did the same plot twice and got away with it. 

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