Wednesday, April 24, 2013

RTW: Robot-like Humans or Human-like Robots?

We're going Sci-fi on the blog today.  This week's topic over at the YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday is:

In our Bookmobile selection this month, Debra Driza's MILA 2.0, the main character discovers she's an android trained to obey orders. We want to know: What other human-like robots (or robot-like humans?) have you enjoyed in books, TV, or movies?

Robots in real life are boring.  They are pretty much only useful for things like building cars or sucking up your wayward popcorn kernels under your couch while you're at work.  Robots in fiction and movies, however, are badass.  They almost always have super-human strength because, well, why not?  They are almost always better looking than us lowly humans.  (Hello "Fembots", "Gigolo Joe", "Marcus Wright", and basically every other cinematic android ever created)  They are often created with some form of humanistic qualities, which later turns into quite a conundrum when they inevitably develop feelings and attempt to ascertain what constitutes humanity.  Also, for some unknown reason, robots are almost always subservient to humans, when they possess the obvious ability to outnumber, outwit, and out-muscle us in every way.  It sure does make for a good story, though...

 Blade Runner (1982) Poster

The very first character I thought of when I read this question was Rachael from the movie "Blade Runner".  It's an old-school gem by Ridley Scott that explores the parameters of what makes us human and therefor different from a robot.  When the differences become blurred and almost impossible to distinguish, the philosophical pondering really starts.  Rachael is a character that drives the debate of what makes a human, well, human.  To me, she exemplifies the human-like robot concept.

 Bender Bending Rodríguez

Another character that jumped out at me was Bender, from the tv show "Futurama".  I am not a devout follower of the show, but from the few episodes I have seen, Bender seems quite human in nature.  On the show, he is described as, "an alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler".  Those seem like very human qualities to me.  Plus, he makes me laugh.

Anyone else have a robot-like human or human-like robot from books, movies, or tv to share?