The action in the film is set in the relatively near future, in the year 2035, in Chicago, where robots are the part of everyday life on earth and the main labor force of the human species. The company sells and design/build is US Robots for its acronym in United States Robotics. Detective Spooner is a man who hates robots. He is also a lover of the past, he is even using motorcycle petrol, some tennis shoes from the early century, and a very old stereo (for the time that is). Almost all home appliances are robotic and all work is very similar to humans. Robots have become ministers, advisers, assistants and even friends. Fear of people to all sorts of mechanical things almost disappeared because of the holiday and they strictly obey the three laws of robotics (which were created by famous author Isaac Asimov) as described in I, Robot.
The first law of robotics states: Robot cannot harm a human or through its inaction allow human been harmed. The second law of robotics is: Robot is obliged to execute all human orders unless it contradicts the first law. The third Law of Robotics is: A robot must protect its own security unless it contradicts the first and second law.
The film has a completely separate story that takes up only motives and characters of the book. In the book cases show the behavior in which robots are seemingly arbitrary and wrong, and at the end of each story it is clear that the robot is just not behaving logically false, but due to the three laws, they are programmed as the human beings. They sometimes have simply another logical conclusions, have logical conflicts due to conflicting rules for them to appreciate the value of one being over another, or have a different standards simply interpreted differently than intended by the people. This film is more of a treatise on the impact of the three laws. The robots are already very close to artificial intelligence; this limit is almost not seen in the film. In contrast with the book, the film, in which, for example, the robot Sonny’s emotions are programmed, differs. Similarly, robots are used in the book on other planets; and in the film, however, everything takes place on the Earth. However, some references to stories from the book can be found in such scene, where Dr. Calvin suggests the survey of one thousand robots under which one is lying…, as described in Isaac Asimov Home Page.
By the superficial action, there are constructed the film awards, however, the chance to make an exciting utopia on the crisis of consciousness of a new generation of robots and their dangerous potential for conflict within the meaning of Isaac Asimov, author of the literary original, is cinematically compelling. Only one person in this city is afraid of robots, and does not trust them – police officer Spooner.
The story begins with the alleged suicide of J. Alfred Lanning, engineer, robot designer and co-founder of the company, creator of the NS-5 model and friend of Spooner. This makes one suspect to the detective and deduces that Lanning was murdered, and will contact Susan Calvin, robopsychologist of the company, along with a robot who discovers that seems out of control.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Calvin discovers that Dr. Lanning built Sonny with a denser alloy and gave a second positronic brain, allowing disobeying the Three Laws of Robotics.
But Spooner’s suspicions didn’t confirm. People perfectly co-exist with works produced by the corporation US Robotics. But Spun voluntarily rendered any help for robots and even mechanisms, resulting in lives in the last century, listening to music on the antique player, using anachronistic fan, making more noise than the cooling …But suddenly, at one point, management has caused US Robotics Corporation Spooner to investigate the suicide of a second person in the company: robot’s inventor Dr. Alfred Lanning. Doctor jumped from the window of his office, located at very high altitude, and posthumous holographic message was addressed to Spun. Why him – at first did not understand Spun neither authority of the corporation. Message extremely convoluted and contained hints rather than direct instructions.
However, the head of US Robotics Lawrence Robertson allowed Spooner access to some closed from outsiders, offices, so that he could investigate this case. Spooner’s assistant became an expert on the robots psychology Susan Kelvin. Starting the investigation, Spun, due to their habit not trust robots quickly finds pathetic the fact: something ugly is happening in the bowels of the corporation. So Dr. Lanning’s suicide had a reason.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Calvin discovers that Dr. Lanning built Sonny with a denser alloy and gave a second positronic brain, allowing disobeying the Three Laws of Robotics. At the time of discovery, Susan tells Spooner, but he has already been dismissed from his police post. The story goes the way, that Spooner was returning from his day job when he saw a 12 year old girl named Sarah accompanying her father to a car when the driver of a trailer crashed into the two vehicles. At the time, a robot saw the accident and jumped into the water, but although Spooner commanded the robot to save Sarah, this saved his life, he calculated that Spooner had 45% chance of survival, while only Sarah had 11%. For Spooner, 11% was enough to save Sarah. After the accident, Dr. Lanning rebuilt everything Spooner, left arm as well as his lungs and ribs. During this process, Dr. Lanning noted Spooner’s hatred towards robots. Finally, Spooner discovers that the company’s central computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) – central computer that controlled every robot in new NS-5 generation of US Robotics Corporation production. VIKI came to the conclusion that people are not able to provide their own security and were obsessed with the idea for them to create a fully secure environment, deprived of their liberty for their own good. A positronic brain that leads to all this in the highly mechanized world (Chicago, New York, Washington and Los Angeles), is up to something: to protect humanity from itself and his instinct of self-destruction, VIKI has launched a real robot rebellion as described in I, Robot.
Spooner, Calvin and the robot can cope with VIKI, which raised the Rise of the Machines. Left without their guidance signals, the robots are ready to follow those who will tell them the way – for the ethical Lanning’s robot – Sonny. For me, this movie raises two main ethical problems. The first is: is it necessary for the person to change freedom for safety? And the second question is: whether we should resist, if any, at our disposal, will require freedom? Let’s begin with the first question. It is widely believed that the less person moves, the less damage he can cause to himself (and others). Accordingly, if a person is deprived of all degrees of freedom, his life would be completely harmless. It is easy to see that such an approach is ideally combined with the First Law of Robotics. And that should do with the equipped with this law positronic brain, found that people are constantly moving, thus carrying the potential damage for themselves and others? That’s right: keep and do- not let go. Unfortunately, the Second Law requires the robot’s subordination to people. That is, if a person says something like “do not dissolve your manipulators, piece of iron”, the manipulators still have to be removed. But they can always be dissolved again if ward again tries to start a movement.
In this matter the main thing is the absolute conviction that the person does not know its use and does not understand his injury. Smoking, drinking, swearing – It’s all harm to moral and physical human health. We must all ban him once and for all, firmly and harshly. Next – is the pure positron logic. Every person is so unaware, and then is it worth to take his orders seriously? He, it turns out, is like insane. Robot may reduce the priority of the Second Law -is it directly proportional to ward insanity? Or, conversely, if to raise the priority of the First Law, if we assume that the safety of people is more important than security of a specific person, what will happen?
Here we digress from the robotics and look at our familiar world without robots (as yet). Surprisingly, the whole train of thought, which we attributed to the positron brains, includes quite peculiar and administrative brains. The Government knows how to act solely in the interests of society as a whole. And for the sake of this society it is quite common to consider stamp down individual personalities, too mobile and talkative. Well, the rest slightly restricts the freedom of movement, speech and thought – just a little, only that person could not inflict self-harm by his own unwholesome thoughts, words and legwork…
What I particularly like in Alex Proyas movie, is that he formulates the problem that is closer to the facts of the U.S. after September 11, when Americans traditionally pride themselves on quality and quantity of their freedoms, confidence in their government, and these freedoms are reduced in the name of greater national security. Of course, nothing particularly terrible to our freedom has not happened – an ordinary citizen doesn’t notice any changes, in general. Well, checking departures at the airport became much longer, less dangerous, foreigners are allowed into the country… But any deviation from the formerly occupied height is fraught with at least one unpleasant fact: starting going down is pretty hard to stop, let alone turn back – and in general it is almost impossible. And why to turn? At the bottom is safer. There is nowhere to fall…
Proyas is playing with this issue in a rather sharp and not obvious game. Three laws of robotics have taught people to unconditionally trust robots, and a happy experience operating positron brains did not anticipate any major concerns. Therefore, when positron brains behaved in rude, ready for this turn of affairs was the only one detective Spooner, technophobic and robotophobic, who had long waited for that one wonderful moment for the robots to get out of control rights. But even he did not expect that the robots will attempt to establish control over the humanity…
Such a turn of the situation quite accurately reflects the two types of relationships between people and government. The first type – “equity”, characteristic of Western democracies in general: the government is the manager, country manager for and on behalf of the taxpayers (shareholders). Well, it steals sometimes, but it is terribly shy about it. The second type – is a “sovereign” characteristic, including countries like Russia today: the government is the master of the country, which (and whose population), it governs how their property. They are embarrassed in this situation in a strange way, so the process is carried out openly and unashamedly. “Shareholders” type of relationship is characterized by the fact that there are more or less effective social control mechanisms over the activities of the government – and as a consequence, there is a high level of management confidence in the government. The second type is characterized by the absence of any control, and trusts no one accountable to the Government if there is, then they are flagrantly irrational.
So Proyas showed in the movie the shock effect of the loss of confidence. And no one in this world is insured to go through situation like mentioned above. This is the question of governance control and we must do something to prevent such situations. But also is it time to move to the second question. Here it is: whether we should resist, if any, at our disposal, will require freedom? The problem of “Fathers and Children” – this formula was not exhausted, not even hinted. Rebellion of children against their parents – this is just a special case. Incidentally, I have long sought sufficiently capacious formulation of the question.”Ward” – is not very accurate (probably there are already Proyas robots who watch over people, as they are designed for it). “Creation” – is the exact word, but only for children and robots, but unless the situation of Roman slaves fully complies within the meaning of this situation. Children and positron- are minded robots together, exactly as they all are in someone’s possession. Not only in care, but under the rule. There can be felt the difference. Maybe they would not mind against guardianship, but to feel the mercy of anyone else it always so nice. Sooner or later the question arises – how long?
Asimov gave this question to the robots in one of his later stories, “A robot dreams”, whose motives were largely used by writers of the film. In the story of Susan Calvin (she is already eighty years old), testing the robot, named Elveksa. This robot is faulty – he has dreams, and dreams are of his robots, the oppression of labor and thirst for liberation. And he sees a man (this man), who, speaking of robots, repeating the words of Moses addressed to Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” At a time when Susan Calvin finds out that this man from a dream is Elveksa - Kelvin instantly destroys the robot. She cannot afford to let the story of Exodus again. She knows how it ends for the Pharaohs …, as described in Isaac Asimov Home Page.
Proyas in the film changes the point of view – he is not on the side of humanity (“Pharaoh”), but not on the side of robots either (“the Jews”). He tries to find a solution acceptable to all. And, oddly enough, the solution is found in the person of the protagonist – detective Spooner. It can be recalled how Spooner refers to robots. He is constantly trying to find in robots human traits. He suspects that behind the fence of the Three Laws lies purely human trick for digital calculation of priorities – a purely human perfidy, passively waiting for the order – some his own secret desires. Everyone sees in the robots only things, tools, easy-to-home service equipment. But Spooner is unique. He suspects that the robots are the same people. This apparent paranoia is salutary for humanity in the situation that creates a change in control central computer (VIKI)the balance of the Three Laws. Spooner was the only one of all who was ready to resist – he did not trust robots, and therefore was immune to the general crisis of confidence erupted. Spooner was only able to offer an alternative for the robots to slavery or death – the right choice.
Thus, it simultaneously freed the robots from the power of people – and freed people who were totally dependent on robots… The people regained the right to take care of their own security. He regained his freedom. The people also regained responsibility for their decisions. If to look closely, it is easy to see that the stories highlighted in the text are mutually symmetrical. If we do not want to be hung over us, “guardian”, and then it would be logical to recognize the right of a similar desire for those who still are dependent on us.
All in all, it can be stated that Proyas allows each viewer to search and find in the web of mutual dependence slaves and slave owners there. And it leaves everybody the right to decide what to do: to break the net, and most bear the responsibility for themselves, at their discretion by choosing a path – or leave everything as it is, to live under someone else’s care, but in complete safety. However, all that can be even easier. Just answer the question: would you leave the right to choose for yourself – or you will render this right to Pharaoh? What could be easier in this choice? Only slavery…
Collaboration in Human-Robot Teams. Web. 2010. 8 November 2010.
Cynthia Breazeal, Walter Dan Stiehl, Robert Toscano, Jun Ki Lee, Heather Knight, Sigurdur Orn Adalgeirsson, Jeff Lieberman, Jesse Gray. Huggable: A Robotic Companion for Long-Term Health Care, Education, and Communication. Web. 2010. 8 November 2010.
I, Robot (2004). Web. 2010. 8 November 2010.
Isaac Asimov Home Page. Web. 2010. 8 November 2010.
Jonathan Strickland. Could computers and robots become conscious – if so, what happens then? Web. 2010. 8 November 2010.
The robotics alliance project. Web. 2010. 8 November 2010.