I’ve been watching this again and again – there’s something deeply hypnotic about seeing this little biped navigate the world. Also, I suspect that the human-on-robot trolling that begins at about 1:30 is probably some sort of Skynet origins moment.
I was intrigued to feel myself reacting so strongly to it. I was very put out on the robot’s behalf – which is odd, because what you really see here is someone demonstrating how well a piece of machinery deals with disruption. There’s nothing to be upset about.
Or is there? We’re at the very beginning of the robotization of the world. Perhaps what I felt was something constructive – a sense that the tools we make for ourselves, and that will increasingly come to sustain us, should be treated with a basic level of respect. That looking like being alive is in some way equivalent to actually being alive.
Or perhaps I was just being sentimental. After all, no matter how human it looks, machinery doesn’t live. Perhaps that’s going to be one of the big challenges of the coming century – learning a new set of reactions to units that act like organic creatures, but aren’t.
That objectification will bring its own dangers, of course – if we start transferring it back into our reactions to each other, then our society will become a much darker, less empathetic place. But then again, in many ways that’s where we are right now.
And perhaps that’s what’s really scary about this little film. It blurs the categories, leaving us reacting to a machine as if it were a human. And that forces us to think about the reverse – about all the people, all around us, whose humanity has been tossed aside as easily and casually as this machine is trolled in this film.