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Self-Awareness and Survival: A Lesson from the Robots

January 11, 2012

“End of Times” is doubtlessly a significant motif for 2012; the Apocalypse is a popular theme across time. One of my favorite end-of-days scenarios in film is the robot apocalypse. You know the story: technology that serves humankind becomes advanced enough to a point where the roles become reversed and technology starts to control humanity, through violent means. The shift in power occurs when the technology/robots/artificial intelligence becomes aware of itself. In the Terminator Universe, it was Skynet became self-aware that the decions was made to kill all humans. The Matrix takes place in a world under robot control, where humans are held prisoner. In iRobot, VIKI’s (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) intelligence evolved to the point where should could reevaluate the laws that governed her behavior. She interprets humans as having a “suicidal reign” over the world and it is up to the robots to take overthrow society for everyones best interest.

Terminators

Sentinels in The Matrix

iRobot's VIKI plotting and Scheming

Within each of these films there is a crucial moment where the robots become self-aware. Once a being becomes aware of its existence and develops a sense of self, it does whatever is necessary to control the surrounding environment and ensure its survival. If the environment is interpreted as alien and harmful, it is natural for defence of the self to occur (ex: robot apocalypse). Self-awareness leads to destruction. Got it.

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