Can Humans Live Forever? Chappie (2015) Movie Review

You cannot read this post if you haven’t read the introductory piece. Please.

I promised this post would be up the next day after writing the introduction, but I guess this is how things are. I got busy and to be honest kind of kept postponing. Not for once did I think of not writing the post. I knew I had to do it. I just kept saying “I’ll do it.”

Lesson: Stop saying “Later”. You only have “Now”.

 

Intro

Do you think we can live forever?

Can Artificial Intelligence make human beings immortal?

I watched a movie that seems to say so. Let’s break up AI and have a discussion.

2015-Chappie-pictures
Image from movieboozer.com

Know this:

If you haven’t watched the movie don’t worry. I will not spoil it for you. Okay that is not possible but I will not tell the whole story. I will only focus on the AI bits.

If you watched the movie please remember that this is my take on the movie.

I don’t do reviews, and neither do I intend to start.

I loved the movie and it being that I have been so interested in Artificial Intelligence, decided to do a review choosing this film, and work of art, as my example on what the future may hold.

This is definitely not a standard review as you are about to see.

 

Back to Basics:

Artificial Intelligence as I said in the previous post is something that effects/affects us in our normal day-to-day lives. From our TVs, Cars, Smartphones etc.

There are levels of AI:

  • Narrow
  • General and
  • Super

But as at now everything we know operates at Artificial Narrow Intelligence.

 

The Movie:

Since this is not a conventional review, I won’t bother myself with giving you a comprehensive plot of the movie.

Note that this movie has received very bad ratings from critics around the world. I think they are all narrow-minded and didn’t look at the movie from my (and hopefully many other believers of AI) perspective.

 

Set in future South Africa, the story is about a time when the cities are (will be) run by robotic police.

There’s this tech company. Then there’s this young guy called Deon (Dev Patel). He works for the tech company. He came up with these sophisticated robots. They are a marvel and the National Police service frequently purchases the droids to use as Police replacements and Patrols on the streets.

These robots are capable of completing arrest missions, recognising criminals, gunning down robbers… in general, they can maintain law and order. They work perfectly and are loved by everyone. Well except for criminals and Hugh Jackman.

I am still not sure on how to classify the level of intelligence of these robots. Inasmuch as they appear to be very clever and able to attack, fight and take simple commands, they still don’t reach that level of General AI. Why? Because they cannot think, reason and most importantly feel like we humans do. Still, they are awesome.

 

Vincent (Hugh Jackman) is a former soldier turned engineer who hates Artificial Intelligence and is jealous of Deon’s invention. He is working on Moose. The Moose project is more or less like a virtual reality video game controlling a super huge and armed robot. Nobody seems to love his idea.

Deon has been working on making robots that feel and think like human beings. He’s been having sessions of coding and recording all footage & progress at his house. And the time comes where he “cracks it”. He successfully creates a “Conciousness.DAT” that is representative of software that ideally should be able to learn, feel and reason like human beings. He therefore needs one of the robots to test his new invention on.

The CEO doesn’t approve his request and so Deon steals one of the deactivated (from damage during an attack) droids. Some robbers kidnap Deon as he is transporting his stolen droid home. He thus has to test his software on the robot in their presence and this how Chappie is born.

Chappie is able to recognise humans, objects, talk, sing, paint, learn and even curse. He can feel, think and goes to the extent of having hope!

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This to me is General AI. The level of Artificial Intelligence that we are yet to attain. The level of intelligence people still don’t believe can be attained. In my previous post, I gave you links to articles by Tim Urban on waitbutwhy.com who has seriously done extensive and very informative pieces on the topics of Artificial Intelligence. Kindly read those posts.

 

Chappie recognises Deon as his maker and goes ahead to be adopted by the robbers whom he even calls Mom and Dad.

The rate and speed with which Chappie learns is incredible and though not very well portrayed and exemplified, you won’t fail to notice it. The robot has emotions, drives, steals, is remorseful and does many other things.

At the very end, after acquiring all the knowledge in the world through the internet Chappie ideally knows everything Man has ever known and is then able to:

  • Program and transfer the ‘mother’s’ consciousness to a flash drive and
  • Finally Deon’s consciousness to another Robot when Deon is about to die, making Deon an immortal super intelligent Robot.

 

So can Human Beings live forever?

The movie is of the thought that what makes us us is our consciousness.

That if my consciousness was somehow stored somewhere and swapped with yours such that your body carries my consciousness and mine carries yours, I’d wake up in your body and you’d wake up in mine. Creepy, right?

Artificial Intelligence

The movie suggests that Human beings can live forever if we can find a way to program our consciousness to fit into mechanical forms like computers and robots.

Think about it. If your consciousness was taken from you and successfully “booted” in a robot, who will you become? The robot or your previous body?

To answer that, first we really need to understand what makes us us.

What makes you you?

Tim Urban wrote a piece which you should read too. He sort to find out what makes us. He laid out three theories:

  • Body Theory – You are you because of your body
  • Brain Theory – You are you because of your brain
  • Data Theory – You are you because of data in your brain (memories and personality)

Since the movie uses consciousness as the element that defines us, it seems like the Data Theory is the strongest and most accepted explanation of us as human beings and the highly probable choice of action if we want to live forever.

But consciousness is hard to explain. It is defined as the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. How can that state be programmed? How can that state be taken from you and be placed in a robot?

Let’s just say data then. We take the data from our brain and save it and then voila we can boot up a real conscious robot!

 

Tim’s post ends with a story of his late grandpa. Let me borrow from him.

Look for a picture of you when you were 6 years old. Look for another of you when you were 14 years old. And since I am only turning 21 (this Friday is my birthday) let me stop there.

Look at both pictures. Who’s in the pictures? You right? Now imagine when you’ll be old and with wrinkles and grey hair and not looking anything like you do right now. Who will be in those pictures? Still you, right? How?

You definitely won’t have all your memories when old. You won’t have the feelings you have now. You won’t think the same. But that will still be you! Yes every cell will have died and new ones will have formed. You will be a whole different creature. But it will still be good old you. Why? There’s some form of continuity. There’s something old you and young you share that no one else does.

Is it because of something called a soul? Do we have souls? And if we do, can we still live forever? Can we transfer our souls to new bodies? Become robots?

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