Sunday, July 25, 2004


I've gotta think of less cheesy titles for my blogs.

While I,Robot was deemed more a science-fiction action thriller than an engaging thoughtpiece (*all science fiction fans yell travesty*), the 2 essential questions posed by the show (and suggested by Asimov) do come through clearly: What does it mean to be human? Can humanity be programmed into bits and bytes; can the complex human brain be imitated with artificial intelligence?

Recent films dealing with the same subject matter:
  • Bicentennial Man (1999)
    (incidentally based on the short story by Isaac Asimov and on the novel, "The Positronic Man", by Asimov and Robert Silverberg)

  • The Matrix (1999)

  • A.I. (2001)

The 2 scenes that effectively capture the show's substantial message: When Sonny jumps Will Smith in a room full of robots and asks in a chillingly human voice, "what am I?". Where the viewer expected a highly intelligent but malfunctioning killing machine, a bewildered creature who is cowed and cornered is revealed instead.

The other scene is when Smith rhetorically asks Sonny if robots can paint a masterpiece and Sonny floors him with his simple retort "can you?". To my puzzlement, the rest of the theater broke out in laughter. Either this momentarily blurred difference between (angry afro-american) man and machine (with growing pubescent-like self-awareness) eluded most or I've lost my sense of humour.

There are no answers to these questions that can satisfy all of humanity. While I'm still searching for my own answers, I shall not presume to provide any here.

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