Despite Our Best Intentions, Bad Things Happen When Machines Feel
There’s little else in the world more awesome than the idea that someday we’ll send hyper-capable robots out into the world and beyond to do all the menial and dangerous work there is to be done. Our future is hopefully more a version of WALL-E, where we keep our bone density and the world isn’t run by a Walmart stand-in, and not a rise of the machines Terminator-style where Skynet hunts us down.
In the award winning short Wire Cutters, filmmaker Jack Anderson sees a future where dangerous work is done by machines, but we still can’t stay away from giving them the ability to feel. As we all know, despite the best intentions, bad things happen when machines feel.
As you can see, the short isn’t quite as heavy as I made it out to be, but it still ends pretty dismally. Two competing mining robots — roaming a planet searching for what we can only assume is kryptonite — meet up and share in the fruits of their labor and teamwork. The smaller solar robot has the ability to detect the minerals in the rocks while the bigger dinosaur-like excavator has the ability to smash them to pieces. All is well until there is an imbalance in the reward. When they can’t divvy their collection up evenly, the two robots resort to the only thing we ever really expect them to do: straight up robo-murder. Rocks are thrown, solar sails unfurl and in the end mutually assured destruction is reached. With the solar sail used to dispatch the larger bot, the smaller bot has no power source and isn’t compatible with the big guy’s nuclear charger.
Is this commentary on mutually assured destruction in the nuclear age? The threat renewable energy poses for the preexisting and more dominant nuclear power? Is it saying something about us as a species that when things become scarce we resort to violence? Or is it just a neat short about two robots collecting green gems?
It’s probably that last one but let us know what you think in the comments below!
courtesy of Nerdist