Opinion: Rise of the Machines? Simon Fitzjohn August 31, 2011 Opinion 1991 Written by: JIM WATKINS In the past robotic endeavours have acted to reflect societies fascination with the future, technology and the looming possibilities of automatons. Imagine a society when robots can do everything for us; this divulged our ever lazy nature. With this came the fear and with that one of the greatest sci-films to date: The Terminator. This film encapsulated our need to progress as a society through technological advances, to demonstrate our intelligence through creating artificial intelligence, but at the same time representing our fear of technology consuming our life. The unknown may be fascinating, but it is also unpredictable, volatile and potentially dangerous. Our hubristic efforts to show off with our intellectual creations eventually created our downfall. The sequel, however, showed that technology could also be our saviour, but only with a better understanding of its capabilities and possibilities could we prevent destruction. It wasn’t all doom and gloom as Hollywood attempted to show robots could also be fuzzy, anthropomorphic, intelligent, cute and funny. So we were treated to the likes of Short Circuit and Batteries Not Included. Though this does beg the question: who would win in a fight between Johnny 5 and the T-1000? We are now aware of how the film industry mis-fired with these predictions. ‘Judgement Day’ passed without an atomic holocaust, though we still have 8 years for the renegade replicants of Blade Runner to start causing intergalactic trouble. If it is any consolation the scientists were also wrong (just take a look back at the laughable Tomorrow’s World episodes of years gone by.) Though it was clear that these weren’t meant to be predictions; they were neurotic, existential fears of whether humans were actually important in the face of technological advancement. In the present day we now live in a world where humans have been responsible for a near financial apocalypse. Perhaps Hollywood is rebooting robotic franchises to demonstrate we should stop trusting humans and start relying on androids. Hollywood may also believe it is now up to the cyborgs to rescue dwindling cinema attendance figures. Without knowing it, Hollywood could be providing a format for humanity to not give up on itself and invest once again into the possibilities of a brighter future through cinema, which in itself is a progressive form of technology. However, it could just be the greedy executives latching on to another trend; they’ve sucked all they can from the vampire craze, probed through a lot of alien blockbusters and now restoring the robot genre. Will Real Steel have the emotional element missing from Transformers, or will it be another exploitation of robotic-destruction-porn in a ring? Will Hugo prove that 3D films can be critically acclaimed and feature automatons? Will the Robocop and Short Circuit remakes bring the crowds back in to relive their 80’s fascination with technology and the future? And could we see the first Oscar awarded to an actress playing a robot in The Iron Lady…? (Don’t worry, I am joking) Well the future has the answers, let’s just sit back and enjoy it, but keep an ever-mindful eye on your toaster!