robots

Full of love

While we're on the topic of videos featuring sensual, creepily futurized female forms, let's turn the wayback machine to 1999, and Bjork's landmark music video for "All is Full of Love," directed by Chris Cunningham. 

It seems to me that the robot design for this video had an enormous influence on visuals in films from 2004's "I Robot" to the recent "Ex Machina." (Portal, too.) It a bit surprising that we haven't heard much from Cunningham in recent years. 

Someone gives you a calfskin wallet.

Kate Darling researches our empathic connections to robots. Among the studies she's run were scenarios in which people were allowed to play with cuddly dinosaur robots that acted like puppies - then told to dismember and destroy them. In the talk below, she discusses our empathy for objects that simulate being alive. 

There are some neat ideas in this lecture. People who are more empathic to humans show more empathy for a robot, even though they're equally aware that it's an inanimate object. It sounds obvious on its face, but the implication is their empathy is guiding their actions even in the face of obvious evidence. Their empathy is bypassing their cognitions. Perhaps the "decent" part of being human isn't our amazing cognitive capacity, but something more fundamental. 

Lovalas

There should be a word for when you desperately want to love something (or someone), but you just can't. Because whatever that verb is, I [verbed] the movie Interstellar pretty hard when I finally got around to watching it last night. It had so many things I'm comfortable loving: smart space adventure that eschews pew! pew! pew! laser battles, Christopher Nolan, a central question of what may be required for humanity to survive its childhood, Bill Irwin, an apparent desire to hew as closely as possible to scientific plausibility (with notable exceptions), a robot mostly animated by practical effects instead of CGI, and a loud soundtrack. 

But, for the entire 3 hours, I just [verbed] it, and I'm still wondering why. You could probably run a master class examining how someone as talented as Nolan could fail to knock it out of the park. It just felt like the movie would have had its heart in the right place, if it had enough heart. It reminded me of watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which indulged in too many lingering shots of Ships In Spaaaaaace while forgetting that the heart of Trek was in its characters. Interstellar used the protagonist's desperate need to save his family as the go-to emotional thread, without ever really building relationships between the people who share the screen for most of the movie. 

On the other hand, I would watch a full-length film in which TARS, still voiced by Bill Irwin, explored the galaxy and just talked to himself. Is there a reason that the robot was in many ways the most interesting character in the film? Does even Nolan believe it will be our technological children, not our biological ones, who one day leave us to roam the universe?