In the 1950’s, pop culture couldn’t get enough of the Killer Robot. It had no heart, literally. That’s practically the tag-line right there. Robots can’t be evil, they can’t be good, they can’t be reasoned with, and they will kill you if something in their programming tells them to do so. It’s like a person with no remorse, but a person who can lift a car and is also 10,000 times smarter than you, so it made for quality cinema.
Want a robot to do your menial work but are afraid that some day you will lose control over it, symbolizing humanity’s innocent yet destructive decent into chaos as the very forces we are playing with prove to us that we are too puny to wield the power we assume? Ray gun, charged and on hand—that’s usually the best answer.
We fear these emotionless things in life that don’t need a reason to hurt us, and more than understand them, we just want to stop them. We need those stories to help us cope with the fact that random attacks exist at all, not just from killer robots, but from things we should have seen coming, things we couldn’t have seen coming, time, life, biology and physics. Killer robots were the death of a loved one, the destruction of a storm, and every day to day loss rolled into something we could shoot at, because somehow the one and only person who understood the robot in the first place died at the hands of their own creation. Typical crazed genius scientist stuff.
But you can’t shoot a storm, or de-program a way to bring a loved one back. These aren’t things that can be prevented either, and we hate that. Thus, we make robot movies to make us feel better and give us a break from the helplessness we feel. And we carry an umbrella, wear a coat, see a doctor when we need to, and tell our loved ones we care while we have the chance, because just hating it doesn’t make it go away. We brace for the little tragedies, even in our work lives, and prevent as many as we can, from backing up our photos to the cloud every night to emailing an important document to ourselves for safe-keeping.
Technological tragedies can be much bigger than losing yesterday’s photos, and generally speaking the “shoot it” method doesn’t work for most of them. “Hit any key” is not a reference to fisticuffs, and outside of Tomorrowland, you really just need that scientist or someone who knows how it works to solve the problem. It’s not nearly as glamorous as an explosion, but flipping a switch can be just as effective without any of the clean-up, as long as someone knows where the switch is.
Ever talk to your computer? I think we all do—we coach and beg and plead like it can hear us, which is about as effective as trying to reason with a killer robot. Our engineers understand the needs of these emotionless machines and can keep them functioning within normal parameters so you can do the same, while taking all the measures necessary to ensure your content is as safe as possible.
But if a killer robot shows up, we assume no responsibility. Our engineers are not equip with ray guns.