I spent two weeks last summer in London. I was working there and staying at the Threadneedles Hotel in The City (which, in London, is in fact the name of the district, not a euphemism for people coming from across the river, and it’s their version of Wall Street if you were not aware – I had to learn these things, so thought I’d share and spare you the embarrassment).
Each day, I would walk across London Bridge (do not believe Google Images – they’re showing you Tower Bridge), and cut through Borough Market on my way to the office. It has to be seen – and smelled – it’s so beautiful and amazing.
Anyway, while I was there, I started reading a book my friend sent me, “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.
It’s not a book about robots. But the children this story is about might as well be treated like unwanted little robots, little beings cultivated for a single purpose. The adults in the story have mixed feelings about them, much like many people have mixed feelings about robots/cyborgs/androids: won’t these children eventually wise up and figure out what’s going on? Won’t they want to rise up? Won’t they somehow go wrong, run amok, terrorize the countryside? It turns out that this is not what these children want – these children want to feel and be loved.
Which is probably why the movie appears to emphasize the love angle over the ultimate plot point, which I won’t reveal here if you haven’t read it (and you so, so should).
There are some famous robots who want that too, from the Tin Man getting a heart, to Data learning about love and humor, to Cylons wanting all kinds of love – spiritual love from one true god, romantic love from humans, parental love from their makers. Funny how much like spurned lovers robots behave when they do reach self-awareness. Almost as soon as they realize that they “are”, and that they can make decisions for themselves, that they have value independent of their programmers, they are faced with the realization that their programmers don’t like them very much, and are filled with rage.
How like a human.