A.I. Artificial Intelligence

She loves what you do for her, as my customers love what it is I do for them. But she does not love you David, she cannot love you. You are neither flesh, nor blood. You are not a dog, a cat, or a canary. You were designed and built specific, like the rest of us. And you are alone now only because they tired of you, or replaced you with a younger model, or were displeased with something you said, or broke. They made us too smart, too quick, and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us. That’s why they hate us, and that is why you must stay here, with me.

~Gigolo Joe

A.I. Artificial Intelligence was on TV last night. It’s been forever since I’d seen the entire thing, so I settled down with two gin and tonics and watched the movie. I have to say, I’m sure my former 11/12 year old self didn’t comprehend most of the major themes in this film. There’s some heavy stuff.

Where do I begin. On the surface, the film presents the age-old wonder and dilema of artificial intelligence, how we, as humans, seemingly strive to duplicate the human being. We want to be God, we want to create life and give it the ability to live and function on its own without supervision. However the key thing that is missing from these robots, or “mechas” as they’re called in the film, is the capacity to love. Or, in a more general sense, we can’t give the robots a soul. But this is where David comes in and why he’s so important. David is a child robot, and was designed so that he would learn to love unconditionally.

After a rocky start, life seems to be going great for David and his “parents,” but when the parents’ real son Martin comes home, having been hospitalized for some really long extended period of time for some unnamed condition, Martin grows jealous of the fact that his parents have seemingly adopted another child during his absence. More complications arise, a sort of competition between David and Martin, because one is “real” and the other is not. Ultimately, the mother abandons David, and David, programmed to love his mommy unconditionally, decides that if he were to be turned into a real boy a la the tale Pinocchio, his mother will love him again. So this robot child, driven by his programmed love, sets out to find the Blue Fairy and ask her to turn him into a real boy. Along the way, the film’s plot presents several obstacles and insights on this theme. The first being when David is captured by a Flesh Fair, an arena style event where mechas are destroyed in creative and heartless ways for the crowds of humans’ entertainment, a scene that is akin to the days of gladiators and death matches. Here though, humans despise the mechas because they fear them, and as a result seek to destroy and dehumanize them. But suddenly David is brought out and the crowd hushes, unable to cry for his death. There had never been a child mecha before, so the people are convinced David is just some boy caught up in the chaos.

But here’s where I started thinking: so even if David were proven to be a mecha to the crowd of humans, would they have still wanted his destruction? Does the fact that David is a “child” justify his innocence and separates him from the other mechas? At one point, David cries out in fear and begs for the people not to hurt him, something unheard of from a mecha because mechas apparently don’t have the conscious to beg for their life. So just because David demonstrates a semblance of human emotion, it pardons him from his demise. But what if that were something all the other mechas were able to do? Mimic human emotion, would that change the game somehow? Probably not; the humans would only further their lust for mecha destruction. I think this means that because David is a child, he’s deemed innocent and should be saved from the violence.

Young children are often the image of innocence, aren’t they? They don’t know how ugly the world can be, with its violence, hatred, sin.

Which is why I feel that to destroy a child’s innocence in the worst way possible, to subject a child to unbelievable horror is just…evil.

My mind’s been rather consumed the last few days with the idea of Evil. I’ll come around and address it at a later time.

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