The good, the bad and the cyborgs: Westworld’s robot forebears

Kurosawa-inspired bickering buddies C-3PO and R2-D2 have been bleep-blooping benevolently across our screens for nearly four decades, and the ranks of kindly machine heroes have been boosted in more recent times by Brad Birds Iron Giant, Pixars Wall-E and Baymax from Disneys Big Hero Six. But for every good-hearted automaton, theres a malicious artificial intelligence simply biding its time to usher in the inevitable age of the machine.

The gun-wielding metaphors for corporate inhumanity

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Poor, unfortunate Mr Kinney. One moment a high-flying corporate executive at Detroits top mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products, the next splayed out on a showing table, body peppered with automatic gunfire, after get the hell out of there the wrong side of the latest( if not necessarily greatest) in automated policing, Robocops mighty Ed209. Paul Verhoevens searing 1987 satire on corporate greed imagined a future in which the replacement of human beings with machines begins to spin horribly and inexorably out of control. Pure science fiction? Not according to killer robot expert Bonnie Docherty of Harvard University, who wrote recently that military robots with the ability to fire on targets independently of human control are swiftly moving towards reality thanks to rapid improvements in artificial intelligence. See also: The Terminator, Yul Brynners Gunslinger from the 1973 Westworld movie.

Machines that use sex as a weapon

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Will mankind destroy himself through his own malignant brutality and hunger for lazy titillation? Alex Garlands Ex Machina meditated what might happen if the worlds first artificial intelligence happened to be created by a deeply-flawed sociopath: Oscar Isaacs alcoholic tech genius Nathan Bateman. Here we have a bona fide sex terrorist with clear misogynistic propensities who understands possibilities for machines to rise up and take over the Earth, yet blindly pushes his exquisitely beautiful creations to the point of bloody uprising solely through his own barbarian barbarism. Alicia Vikanders blank-eyed Ava has been taught by humanity that the lives of others do not matter, and that lust is mans greatest weakness. Its scarcely surprising that she chooses to use this information to knock off Nathan, lock Domhnall Gleesons callow Caleb Smith in his bos fancy jungle techno-mansion and waltz off to plant the seeds of the machine hegemony. See also : Metropolis, the Fembots from Austin Powers, Pris from Blade Runner.

Sociopathic operating systems and freaky space cyborgs

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Technology glitches are a part of everyday existence in 2016, but the concept of machine intellects with power over life and death situations remains a terrifying one almost half a century after Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey debuted in theaters. How do we know if artificial intelligences will think like us? Is humanity a trait exclusive to human beings, or can a sufficiently clever machine also learn to be kind? And yet once again, Hollywoods evil robots often end up telling us more about ourselves than they do our future digital children. In 2001, HAL 9000 merely rebels against its masters, issuing the famously chilling reposte Im sorry Dave, Im afraid I cant do that, because it dreads its own imminent demise an solely human reaction. And Ian Holms Ash the android is merely following orders from his human boss when he decides to sacrifice the crew of the Nostromo for the chance of returning a live xenomorph specimen to Earth in 1979 s Alien. See also : Gerty from Moon.

Robots that showed us what it means to be human

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Is there a more affecting, haunting scene in Hollywood sci-fi than Rutger Hauers tears in rainfall speech from 1982 s Blade Runner? The Dutchman improvised the final monologue from screenwriter David Peoples far less lyrical original script, and it instantly changes everything weve watched thus far. Merely in this final scene do we realise that the replicants short life spans do not curtail their ability to live a full existence, perhaps even one fuller than that of the average human. Moreover, were given a synapse-searing glimpse into the wonders they have glimpsed in the heavens. Abruptly it attains sense that Pris, Roy Batty et al look like stone starrings: these biorobotic androids are perfect examples of the live hard, die young archetype. See also : Chappie, Short Circuits Number Five.

Machines that flamed a trail and left us in their wake

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What if artificial intelligences simply outgrow humanity, leaving us behind like a youthful romantic dalliance? Spike Jonzes wonderful Her imagined a geeky indie stereotype, Joaquin Phoenixs Theodore Twombly, falling in love with his operating system, Scarlett Johanssons Samantha, merely to discover that his perky incorporeal paramour has been carrying out techno-romances with several thousand other human fans. She then leaves poor Theo( and mankind) behind to join a collective of digital intellects in an intellectual orgy of discovery in some elevated dimension of existence that his tiny mind couldnt perhaps contemplate. Ouch.
See also : David, the android in Prometheus. Read more:

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