My fieldtrips for my research often tend to be to the movies. Movies such as the Matrix trilogy, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Star Trek: Nemesis and today I, Robot serve as a source for thinking about human nature in relation to technology.
In her book on technoculture Lelia Green comments on the increasing number of contemporary narratives that are being told about machine-human interaction.
Cyborgs and science fiction form an area of popular culture which seems to have increased in importance as technology has become more integral to our cultures and our communities. This burgeoning interest in narratives about the future, and about parallel universes, may indicate a desire to understand and explore the present. In speculating about others we are also speculating about ourselves.
Furthermore she says,
Through films such as Blade Runner and The Matrix, our society tells itself stories about what it is to be human in a world where humans are increasingly influenced by, and dependent upon, technology and technocultures. Here the myths of loss and longing are played out in the context of technologically driven futures, where machines can feel feelings and have roles with more humanity in them than the ï¿½peopleï¿½ characters do.
I’d definitely put “I, Robot” in this category.
Issues to do with dehumanization, human-machine fusion, technological dependence, the essence of humaness, the relationships between the concepts of body, mind and soul, and the place of love all come out in this film. More so, I think, than did in the slower-paced and “deeper” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” (though there are moments in that film that are equally provoking).
I enjoyed “I, Robot”, both as an intellectual vehicle for my research and as a story. The ending of the movie with it’s “what next?” questions leaves it open for continuing discussion. Hopefully, they don’t make a sequel.
Wired Magazine Issue 12.07 (July 2004) was themed around “Human Being 2.0” with lots of interesting articles related to “I, Robot”.