You could say that robot movies and fictional robots actually present a
more satisfying timeline for robotics technology than the "real" history
of robots. Ask any Star Wars fan!
It's as if sci-fi writers were downloading or channelling their ideas from the future or maybe they had access to secret blueprints that laid out the robotic future that is now rapidly becoming your robotics reality.
Surely not, you cry. How could the Terminator movies, I, Robot, or Westworld, all depictions of "robots gone bad", have been so accurate when predicting the kinds of scenarios that are unfolding today?
Mad-genius-designed military robots, disturbing androids barely crawling out of the uncanny valley and iSpy robots in every home!!
And we're charging ahead into robot Armageddon (or at least a
robot revolution), blissfully ignoring the warning signs that were laid
out for all to see in robot movies, robot cartoons and robot literature.
Non sci-fi fans, up to now, tended to brush robot movies aside as simply that...fiction. Or just silly entertainment to be washed down with popcorn and soda. I wonder what's going through their minds now as they see robotics technology branching out and embedding itself into the world around them like some sort of silicon fungal growth.
All the media platforms are certainly jumping on the robotics bandwagon which suggests the idea that we are reaching the culmination of a pre-planned robot agenda for the world. It all began with the idea that man could create artificial life or through technology, become something more than the passive result of evolution.
Fast forward a few thousand years and robot movies seem to
provide a virtual test-bed for human-robot interaction, robot war games
and even robot psychology as well as a platform for depicting the
possible outcome of those long-lived, ancient desires to transcend
Robot movies are mostly to blame for imprinting on us all those nasty, post-apocalyptic visions of giant alien robot invasions and androids that you wouldn't know were robots until their face slides back to reveal a nest of wires and microchips. Again, thank you Westworld and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Oh, and the glowing red eyes are a dead give-away too...
But, although the robot uprising, depicted in nearly all robot movies, may be a few decades away whilst we wait for the required hardware and software, you are, in the meantime, being insidiously enticed into the very real-world version of The Matrix. More on this later.
For now, let's take a look at how all of this crazy predictive
programming took shape to become the world's most famous robots and our
most loved robot movies.
He didn't make robot movies, but Karel Capek certainly got the ball rolling in 1920 with R.U.R (Rossum's Universal Robots), a stage-play about rebellious biological robots that, you guessed it, bring about the demise of the human race.
It's interesting that these "bots" were more like Blade Runner's genetically engineered androids than the usual bucket of bolts automaton of previous years.
Still, in 1927, Fritz Lang brought us the Metropolis movie and with it, one of the most stunning depictions of a robot ever to grace the silver screen, that happened to be in the form of a sexy female android.
Even to this day, it's hard to beat the artistic direction of this movie, the complex themes undertaken and the Maria Robot creation.
Isaac Asimov gave us one the most interesting and thought
provoking robot partnerships in fiction with R. Daneel Olivaw and R.
Giscard Reventlov in Robots and Empire. What stands out is Giscard's
ability to read minds and influence the decisions of humans in his
presence. Could this be just another killer app for future real world robots?
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You may laugh now, but Robby the Robot was the height of robotic sophistication in the minds of movie prop designers involved with the 1956 smash hit, Forbidden Planet.
Previous attempts at depictions of futuristic robots resulted in films like Robot Monster (1953), probably the worst film ever made, where a guy in a gorilla suit with a space helmet is the best they could do.
Better looking than Willow Garage's PR2 and more capable than his predecessor Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Robbie the Robot continues to entertain us to this day through cool toys and amazing life-size replicas.
Actually, Gort could shoot a powerful disruptor laser beam from his eyes which makes him pretty capable and at least these two Big Metal Men were bipedal and could just about walk, unlike later "wheelie-bin" models like the much loved Lost in Space robot B9.
Other wheeled automatons that were rendered useless by a flight of stairs, in their day, were the Daleks and the K9 robotic dog from Doctor Who.
OK, the Daleks were more "shrivelled alien mutant in a robotic enviro-suit exoskeleton" than actual robots and later versions of both could fly. Let's hope current real-world, wheeled robots can do the same someday!
Even R2-D2 showed off his flying skills in Star Wars: Episode II to C-3PO's amazement!
Doctor Who's Cybermen couldn't fly, but then they didn't need to because they had legs! Cybermen more closely represent the ideas of transhumanism where organic humanoids gradually become humanoid cyborgs. Whereas Daleks simply like to exterminate everything in their path, your friendly neighbourhood Cybermen try to turn you into one of them.
Before Google's real-world attempt at a self-driving car we had...
...all of which play with the idea of machines imbued with a
soul or spirit - a life of their own. Ray Kurzweil explores this theme
too in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines.
As you can see, robot movies tend to cast robot characters as either comedic side-kicks, single-minded killer alien robots, hell-bent on destroying humanity or friendly helper robots that get their wires crossed and turn on their once beloved human masters.
Oh, and there may be a few exceptions to the rule such as the inventor that creates an intelligent robot that then wants to become human. You could call this "Geppetto Syndrome", after the popular story The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.
There's a bit of Geppetto in all modern day roboticists that eagerly wish to see their mechatronic creations come to life.
At some point, you will realise that some robotics technology roads lead to the luciferian principle and the idea that "natural" life must be replaced with robotics, biotech and nanotech, i.e. an improvement on God's "flawed" creation.
Robot movies like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Blade Runner, I, Robot and Bicentennial Man all attempt to wrestle with this theme which I would say is more relevant to The Robot Agenda than the usual "kill everything with a heartbeat" depiction of future robots and artificial intelligence.
More androids in robot movies...
In the Transformers movie series, Autobots and Decepticons slug it out on planet Earth and us puny humans just happen to be in the way!
Do you know how many desolate planets there are out there?
You would've thought that Optimus Prime, Jetfire, Megatron and his Decepticons could have taken their "family issues" elsewhere or at least cleaned up after themselves.
Regardless, you've got to admit this is the wildest and coolest representation of the old "fallen angels" story we have seen to date.
Maybe there is more to this recurring theme than we've been told?
More giant robot movies...
Robot movies have also reached Bollywood, India's unstoppable movie industry, with the Endhiran movie. You can expect many more robot movies with a cultural bias to follow from around the world based on Endhiran's success, further aligning movie goers everywhere with The Robot Agenda.
Modern CGI is great eye-candy but my all time favourite giant alien robot film has to be.... The Iron Giant.
Something about this film just pushes all the buttons when it comes to portraying human-robot interaction, robophobia and the mass hysteria caused by powerful new technologies.
Much like we see in Terminator 2, this is a tale of a killer military robot that befriends a young boy.
The Lost in Space robot B9 was also admirably obsessed with the safety of young Will Robinson.
Hmm...do you think they're trying to tell us something here?
Is the pre-programming sinking in yet?
There's plenty of subliminal predictive story-telling going on in George Lucas's Star Wars Universe too and let's face it Star Wars robots like R2-D2 are some of best movie robots ever designed.
I particularly drool over the Battle Droid and Droideka designs as well as all of the many walkers or "mechs".
Although the Red Planet movie wasn't great, it had what I believe to be one of the most feasible quarduped robot designs I've seen in a movie robot.
AMEE, the Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion ex-military
robot goes berserk (surprise, surprise) and hunts down the human crew on
their trek across the surface of Mars.
In the Iron Man movies, you see the progression of the superhuman robotic exoskeleton combat suit from its clunky grey metal origins to the gorgeous red and gold design we would all like to have a copy of.
This is symbolic of the robotics laboratory prototypes that we currently have to endure until the mass-produced "sports model" robots eventually go on sale to the public.
Just how much do you think a real world Sonny NS-5 robot would cost and when do you think they will finally become a robotics reality?
The best I can do for now is a desktop wallpaper of my childhood favourite superhero, but exoskeletons are definitely moving to fill the gap in the meantime.
More man-machine fusion robot movies...
Probably, the cutest and most altruistic robot movie character ever created, challenging R2-D2's long-held position, is Wall-E, the relentlessly efficient little trash compactor droid.
Under the heap of over-the-top moralising in this film, about the demise of planet Earth, you'll find some incredibly important lessons on how to "do" emotion in simplistic robots.
The interactions between our little hero and Eva, his girlfriend robot, feed us the idea that emotional robots may artificially fall in love with each other one day. You're not against robot marriage, are you?
Talking of emotional robots, a quick mention and a hug, because he needs it, has to go out to Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I loved Alan Rickman's performance as the depressed robot Marvin in the film version of the famous book. Who said friendly artificial general intelligence had to be blissed out and happy all day, every day.
As long as it doesn't throw a hissy fit and decide to pull the plug on your life support, a few down days could make robots more likeable and dare I say it, more human.
Anyway, I grew up on a diet of Japanese giant robot anime dubbed into Spanish (summer hols) along with the British and American weekly feed of Dr Who and the amazing Transformers: Robots in Disguise.
Even now, the idea that Mechs or Mecha need not be limited in their size or capabilities just seems so natural, and it's good to see the tradition continuing with class acts such as Neon Genesis Evangelion complete with fallen angels symbolism... again.
More robot cartoons...
Little did I or others know, that by consuming hour after hour of robot anime, we were being subtly indoctrinated to embrace the robotic future, before which we now stand, where the endgame being played out is The Robot Agenda.
But, fear not, in most robot movies, there's usually a reluctant hero that turns up to save the day (I, Robot) or sometimes a cute service robot makes all the difference.
In real life though, it will probably be up to us to be aware of the possible negative side effects of mass adoption of robotics technology.
It will not just all work itself out. It never does.
A good outcome depends on the altruism of many passionate and informed individuals that help steer life and the rise of technology in our favour.
I certainly wouldn't wait for the likes of Bender the Robot from the Futurama TV series and film, to be your knight in shining armour. He's more likely to kick back, crack open a cold one and light a cigar as he watches the world burn.
Cool character though. We desperately need some real-life Futurama Bender robots to liven things up around here.
There are simply too many games that feature robots, mechs and cyborgs to list, but let's just say that videogames have provided a much needed platform for virtual interaction with robots, at least until we have more of the real thing.
For example, I'll never forget fighting or sneaking past security bots in the original Deus Ex video game or playing a game of catch with the strangely loveable robot Dog from Half Life 2.
But, if I have to pick one videogame robot to rule them all, I'd choose the friendly Geth humanoid robot, Legion, from Mass Effect 2.
There's just something very tangible about this droid's design and its creepy logic that almost feels like a first encounter with an alien intelligence.
Robot movies just cannot reproduce this kind of interactivity where the player becomes immersed in a character relationship that develops over the course of an epic adventure.
An award for presentation should also go to the Metal Gear Solid series that gave us memorable robot and cyborg encounters that don't seem so far-fetched now that we have the BigDog robot and real world cyborgs courtesy of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Some Metal Gear Solid 4 robots...
I've never played Super Robot Wars but it does seem to have a large following and combines many Japanese cartoon robot icons in a tactical role playing game that spawned a large number of spin-off productions.
If giant piloted humanoid robots reduce planet Earth to a pile of
rubble then don't be surprised if the Japanese had something to do with
Talking of which, as far as robot movies go, The Matrix also happens to have some pretty cool robot designs in the form of the Sentinel and some formidable mechs for the humans to fight them with.
Along with the Matrix Sentinels, you'll see some harvester walkers much like the tripod walkers in The War of the Worlds, Half Life 2 and Mass Effect 3.
Does this mean that beyond robot movies, long-legged robotic walkers could be a possibility in your robotics future?
Or maybe you are being prepared through predictive programming in robot movies and games for a real or staged encounter with alien robots ala Project Blue Beam.
We have certainly been fed a constant diet of sci-fi robots, androids and transhumanism in the vast history of robot movies as well as the ever popular alien invasion scenario.
If anything like this does really exist "out there", they had better be pretty convincing when they turn up, to draw people's attention away from watching robot movies or whatever happens to be on TV.
Imagine that giant alien hordes with swarm capabilities and
hive-mind intelligence turn up uninvited as depicted in Mass Effect 3 or
any Transformers movie to wage war here on this little blue planet.
Maybe that's what those underground bases are for?
Moving on, I also vaguely remember watching Silent Running with Huey, Dewey and Louie, the extremely likeable space gardening robots and some great human-robot interaction with the lead character.
The more recent Wall-E carries the torch for this theme in robot movies where humanity moves off planet into space colonies whilst posing the possibility of returning home someday to reseed the Earth with biological life.
And finally, 2001: A Space Odyssey with Hal 9000 is, for me, the ultimate A.I. movie. What can I say? Simply the best portrayal of an artificial intelligence gone wrong and the A.I. death scene is one of the greatest scenes in cinema history.
More classic A.I. supercomputer movies...
And in videogames...
So, remember this...
Robot movies, robot cartoons, famous robots and robots in games are definitely shaping your robotics reality.
Ask yourself who benefits from all of this predictive programming in the form of "entertainment" and you'll begin to understand what the agenda is for real world robots and artificial intelligence.
"All the world's a stage...and all the men, women and robots merely players".
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