Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


I, Robot

Filed under: Movies,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

There’s no risk that the website for the movie I, Robot will be as misleading as the one for A.I. I’ve thoroughly scanned it. What you get for completing the “investigation” are three wallpapers for your computer desktop (One was really cool. It’s on my work computer for now, but it’s rather flashy, so I might just go back to the black screen.). It was enough to make me excited about the movie, but there doesn’t seem to be any misleading articles there unless you count the “advertisement” for the NS-5. It’s pretty cool and they let you “build your own NS-5,” which results in more wallpaper instead of your own robotic personal assistant. The “ad” had an Apple feel to it.

I’m stoked about the movie. I remember the story that this movie is based on, but I’m hoping that they make it better than the bare bones story that Asimov wrote. The pictures of Will Smith make him looks so paranoid and unhappy. I like happy go-lucky Will Smith much better. I’m glad to see him in another sci-fi flick. He deserves better than the last few scripts have given him. I hope I, Robot lives up to his and its own potential.

Somehow, I wish they had decided to do Caves of Steel instead of I, Robot. It’s a typical buddy cop movie (Will Smith would have made a good Baley), except one of the cops is a human detective from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />New York and the other is a robot from the Spacer world where the murder took place. When I first saw the large cardboard advertisement for I, Robot in the theatre a few months ago, I immediately made the connection to Caves of Steel instead of the correct story. I guess they figure they have to slowly introduce the movie-going public to the concept of robots. It would be too much of a jump for our puny minds to just jump to Caves of Steel without pounding the Three Laws of Robotics into our head AGAIN.

Honestly, the first time I heard of the Three Laws of Robotics, was in an episode of Buck Rogers on television. It was the 80’s sci-fi show with Erin Gray. I so much wanted to be like her. She was like a perfect Barbie doll woman and she had brown hair, just like me. She really showed me that women with brown hair can be knock-outs just like blondes, maybe even better than blondes. Gil Gerard was no Captain Kirk, but he was ok for a hero. He was some lame guy who was brought into the future accidentally, which I never thought made him anything special except to history geeks. Somehow, he ends up being a cool hero, even though he’s basically a caveman.

Anyway, they had a cool robot called Twiki (voiced by the wonderful Mel Blanc). Once, Twiki got broken and needed to be reset. When he was started up again, he recited the Three Laws of Robotics. The entire cast was fawning over these “beautiful” laws that kept them safe from the robots and kept the robots under their control. I remember thinking, “What’s so great about that? If you’re going to have robots, you need to put in safeguards.” I think I was eight years old and the whole thing seemed really corny.

When I read the robot short stories and the novels, those damn Three Laws of Robotics were pounded into my head over and over. There was one story in which a robot just kept circling out there on the planet because a human had told him to do something, but going there would damage the robot. The thing was getting as close to the danger as it could until the radiation would start damaging it, then it would head away, but it would remember the order, so as soon as the radiation levels were lower, it would head back toward the danger. That story was interesting and actually used the Three Laws as a plot device.

Most of the stories were really anti-robot. Sure, Bicentennial Man eventually got his way and was deemed “human” in the end, but most of the stories were filled with paranoia. I don’t think it’s going to be like that. I think that robots will be the cool thing. First, only the truly rich will have them. Paris Hilton will have her own personal robot assistant that accidentally breaks her stuff and works very poorly. Then the medium rich will have one that will work poorly. Then everyone will have one that works poorly. Fifty years after that, everyone will have one that works pretty darn well and we’ll all wonder what we did without them.

Of course, by then, I’ll be dead. I don’t think we’ll see the wide proliferation of robots in our lifetimes. Plus, let’s face it. Humans are much cheaper to create. They’re harder to control, but they are much easier to come by. With the correct incentive program, humans are so willing to sacrifice even their lives. We are so much more cost efficient than robots and we keep creating more every day. For a few dollars or maybe even for an Employee of the Month award, humans are willing to work hard and long hours. Hell, they’ll even volunteer to be Human Billboards for minimum wage. Why mess with a robot that needs to be rebooted every fifteen minutes because the OS is buggy?

All in all, robots are cool. I wish they really existed. I like to see movies about robots. Hell, I’ll even watch third rate sci-fi on television just to see robots. I doubt they’ll ever exist in my lifetime, but maybe Sony or Honda would like to prove me wrong on that one. I won’t stop them.


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