More Human Than Human (Revelation Film Festival)
Daniel H. Wilson, Gary Kasparov, various robots
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…a kind high tech overview of the current state of droid affairs…
The robots are coming! The pontificators are here! Taking its title from a line of dialogue in Ridley Scott’s seminal Blade Runner, More Human Than Human tries to encapsulate both a whole swathe of theories and developments in the twin fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, and a whole matrix of anxieties regarding those theories and developments. Are we creating our own successors, either in the workplace or on the food chain? Is AI inevitable? What will it be like when it gets here? Will it like us? Can we make it like us?
It’s more or less successful, in a scattershot way, but lacks a strong central thesis. Rather, filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting have created a kind high tech overview of the current state of droid affairs – and one that will date quickly, as these kinds of records always do.
The most engaging elements are the little human stories, wherein people have made use of currently emerging AI tech to service their own emotional needs. One harried mother to an autistic child hails Siri as a perfect and tireless babysitter, an endless well of answers for her kid’s unending questions. Elsewhere a bereaved woman has fed her her deceased partner’s texts into a chatbot to create a kind of virtual echo of the dead man. While the ongoing speculations about super-intelligent AI are interesting, they’re rather abstract – these anecdotes demonstrate the very ral and understandable ways in which humans and intuitive IT can and will continue to interact.
We also get a cultural overview of attitudes to androids mediated via cinema, from 2001 to The Terminator, 1984 to Star Wars, and the usual collection of talking heads (Chess wiz Gary Kasparov’s philosophical approach to his defeat at the hands of supercomputer Deep Blue back in the day is wry). For viewers who are already into this kind of bleeding edge speculative tech, More Human Than Human holds nothing too new or surprising. However, if you’re looking for a broad but thinly spread sampling of the (now not quite) current state of play, it does the job nicely.