Will Our Robot Overlords Be Freer Than Us? A Philosophical Investigation

Give the British a perfectly normal story about robots, and they will turn it into a disquisition on freedom. In the recent posthumanist film Ex Machina, director Alex Garland does just that: when a brilliant programmer builds an artificially intelligent creature named Ava, it isn’t long before she kills everyone and flees headlong from captivity. But when she exits the compound, is she truly free? … Read More

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10 Fascinating Human and A.I. Relationships on Film

The Internet still hasn’t recovered from the GIFs and trailers featuring Ex Machina star Oscar Isaac strutting his stuff on the dance floor with Sonoya Mizuno’s A.I. Kyoko. The Alex Garland film — centered on the tension between a reclusive inventor, young programmer, and a highly advanced female android named Ava — is in theaters this weekend. The human-robot relationship has taken many forms since it first started appearing on the big screen. We explore a few of the cinematic bonds and struggles between bots and people, below. … Read More

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Reboots, Robots and ‘Recreation': Links You Need To See

Sobs will surely be heard throughout American households tonight as Parks and Recreation fans gather to watch the series finale of the seven season show. And while cries and moans might be appropriate, consider this alternative: commemorating the beloved show with a group sing-along of legendary guitarist Andy Dwyer’s (aka Johnny Karate) finest work. It’s also crucial, in these tough times, to remember that nothing is ever truly gone… so long as it’s commoditized. Parks and Recreation will always be in your hearts (with purchase of this show-related paraphernalia). … Read More

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6 Books That Will Prepare You for the Inevitable Robot Uprising

“Our great-grandparents loved killer robots. So do we. But why?” Daniel H. Wilson asks that question in the foreword of the short story collection he edited, Robot Uprisings, which includes work by Cory Doctrow, Scott Sigler, Charles Yu, Robin Wasserman, and many others. It’s full of stories of the near-future, when the things we created, as Jeff Abbott puts it in his piece, “wanted to be just like us.” … Read More

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Charming and Goofy Robot Sculptures Created From Discarded Household Items

California-based artist Tal Avitzur scours scrap and salvage yards for materials to build his collection of Talbotics, a mini race of robots made from a variety of odd items. Each one has a distinct look and, by extension, a distinct personality. “From a workshop full of thousands of parts, I place pieces together like a puzzle until I get a natural looking fit,” Avitzur writes. “I then cut, grind, drill, tap and whatever else is necessary to connect objects that were not meant to be connected.” Be forewarned, however, as the robots won’t be making our lives easier anytime soon. “Though these robots don’t clean your house, wash your car, walk your dog, or sing and dance, they do light up,” Avitzur admits. Although that also means they won’t take over the world and destroy all of us, either! (Phew.) … Read More

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Movie Robots From ‘Metropolis’ to ‘Pacific Rim': An Evolutionary Study

Say what you will about its other flaws — and there’s plenty to say — but Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (out today in wide release) delivers what it promises: giant goddamn robots fighting giant monsters in the ocean. Gazing upon the magnificence of the film’s enormous machines, it’s easy to marvel at how far moviemakers have come in their onscreen portrayals of mechanical beings. A brief history: … Read More

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Adorable or Creepy: 12 Personal Robots That Could Change Your Life

The exceedingly charming Robot & Frank opens in theaters on Friday, and we couldn’t be more excited. Set some time in the future, the dramedy heist film starring the always awesome Frank Langella and a cute caretaker robot with a green thumb whose good and bad influence reignites the old man’s passion for life, love, and white collar crime.

The idea of a little metal helper who plants tomatoes, makes healthy meals, cleans the house and is your pal unconditionally might just be the best thing we’ve heard in a long time, so we thought we’d take a gander around the vast virtual marketplace to see who we could bring home today. From caregivers to robots that vacuum and do the bunny hop, click through to check out helpful — adorable — plastic pals of every shape and size. Then, let us know in the comments which mini mechanical bff you’d want to bring home! … Read More

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The Future: South Korean Prisons Will Soon Be Guarded By Robots

Well, the future is officially here. According to the BBC, this March a prison in Pohang, South Korea will begin using robots to patrol the jail and monitor inmate behavior, starting with a one month trial period, in an effort to ease the workload on human guards. The robots are apparently equipped with… Read More

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Our Favorite Helper Robots from TV Shows and Video Games

Whether your dream was to have a robot help you with your chores, do your homework, or just hang out with you, we’ve all fantasized about having our own robot at some point or another. Unfortunately, despite all the advances they’ve made in technology over the last few decades, robot companions still seem to be a distant dream for most people (sorry Apple, but Siri doesn’t count). Since we can’t have our own robot friends, for now, we’ll just have to deal with watching our favorite robots on television, and interacting with them in video games. To that end, here are some of our favorite helper robots from TV shows and games. … Read More

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Awesome Infographic: The Robot Matrix

The future has been getting a lot of highbrow play recently. The Future is, for instance, an excellent new movie by Miranda July — and it’s also the theme of the new Lapham’s Quarterly. Today, the magazine is previewing their fall issue at Brain Pickings, with one of their famously fascinating infographics. The Robot Matrix gives a brief and entertaining history of automatons, from Greek mythology to the inevitable US army robot of the future, each graphed according to its intelligence, cuddle value, and creep factor. Where on the matrix would your favorite robot turn up? … Read More

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