I finally saw I, Robot the other night wondering what Alex Proyas might have made of the famous Asimov story. I had the interesting experience of working with/for him creating his Mystery Clock Cinema site (the navigation was changed by his crew since). I haven’t read the original but I have some idea of what the gist of it was from all the other reviews of the Proyas film.
In the end it was typical Alex, long on style and mysteriousness and a little short on performance from the prinicpal cast. It’s a little hard to tell with Will Smith really. He’s funny and carries himself well (and he has buffed up for the film), but I found it hard to believe his sense of moral outrage and character journey. For my money the best performance was from the robot, Sonny.
Another thought that crossed my mind was this: In many visions of the future robots are painted as slaves doing all our menial tasks. Granted, we do use robots for repetitive jobs such as welding cars or for dangerous jobs such as bomb disposal. But these tend not to be smart robots, they have little artificial intelligence, if any, and tend to be either pre-programmed to make a set of moves or controlled by a human.
What has happened in robotics is that most of them that have made it into the mainstream are not slaves at all, they are pets and companions. It seems likely that the terrible Kubrick/Spielberg mess of a film A.I. is more likely to be the way robotics goes. Humans tend to imbue even dumb machines (like this computer or my car) with human attributes. It seems we can’t avoid anthropomorphising everything – from pets to machines. My guess is that it will be humans that defend robots against other humans much more than intelligent robots defending themselves. Robots would probably see the logic of a situation and take the path of least or most probability for a successful outcome.