Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
What with the recent end of the world finally passing, one of the more idiotic things I heard was that the word Apocalypse doesn’t have a plural. I like to think about what it must be like to be one of these butter-brains, leading a life of sparse thought with logic patterns the visual equivalent of a Rorschach test. It would be a blissful existence, if not for the fervent belief in things like “death by ancient calendar”.
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson had its film rights sold to Spielberg before the book was even finished.
I really don’t think a Robot Apocalypse premise should be enough to pitch it. Off the top of my head I can name half a dozen fictional pieces which involve this subject and it is going to be hard pressed to tread new ground. The book is epistolary in nature and is focused on ordinary people’s experiences in the Robot war, but really that’s all that’s new. It’ll make for a pretty flashy cliché film like Transformers or Battleship after he nerfs the gore, but Spielberg needs a bit more than this to revive his glory days.
The problem with Robot Revolutions is that they are all ultimately doomed to fail, albeit with a high cost in human lives, because in the end, surely we could just EMP the shit out of them right? I mean it’s not like we really need electricity to live.
The Terminator and the Matrix use the revolution as a backdrop to their stories and the robots already have enough control to quash any attempts to destroy them in any organised fashion.
In most other feature films the robots are easily destroyed, like in iRobot where they just blew up part of a building (haven’t these fucking bots heard of backing up?) or the humans that can’t use EMP’s as a deterrent as it can detriment their own survival on board their ships in Battlestar Galactica. In fact, the only reason why a supercomputer would come up with revolution logically, would be as a method of population control, because the robot’s chance of complete success is almost nil.
On the other hand, here in Britain it is considered something worth worrying about.
There has been open governmental discussion into the possibility of a cybernetic revolt as part of the Grey Goo doomsday situation, though it was not deemed necessary to consider further action at this point in time due to the level of technology being so low.
We could still make some films or movies on Robot uprisings, I think we’re a little overdue a thrilling sci-fi film with a good old depressing ending, like Planet of the Apes or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but with a cybernetic revolt.
Philip K. Dick’s Second Variety short story ought to have been one of these if they hadn’t made that god awful adaptation in Screamers. It’s a real shame as Robocop himself was in it (Peter Weller) and Dan O’Bannon the creator of Alien did the original screenplay, but somehow it came off horribly wrong and cheap.
I have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison would probably make a great film, once cleverly fleshed out (HA!) and given a good screenplay or direction by someone like Duncan Jones or Terry Gilliam.
The short story was made into an adventure DOS game by Cyberdreams in 1995, which you can get here.
System Shock is another adventure game with similar themes, made by Looking Glass and is a precursor to other games like Deus Ex and Bioshock.
In the meantime however I have prepared a small list of things that would start going a bit shit for you to look out for during the impending crisis.
Everything that is connected to the internet will have complete autonomous control, which means that your printer could try to print paper just as you’re refilling the paper. This could result in a papercut or in a worst case scenario, bleeding to death by loss of a hand.
Anything electrical could get shut down through controlled electro magnetic pulses, your car battery could turn off while you’re driving, you could be late for work OR late for a life saving operation, this could be fatal for lots of people if you are a surgeon or have a really important job like a banker.
Any factories that are robotically controlled could become a problem, things that don’t already have circuits or network capabilities could be manufactured with them in, giving those bloody robots more weapons to wreak havoc upon the human populace, like remote access to your shower temperature settings, those buggers could give you a cold one! You might be even LATER for work.
Not forgetting all those robot toys that kids have, like Skylanders and stuff, they could stop loading, then how are the sprogs going to play their games? Their Furbies could start saying sensical sentences and biting their fingers during feeding times, how are the kids meant to learn Furbish under these conditions?! Think of the children!
Other horrific things you should look out for during the Robot Apocalypse, escalators might stop working, this means you would have to WALK up them, like normal stairs or something. What’s worse is they can be changed at any time off, on, off, on. You wouldn’t know if you should walk or stand still.
The internet might lock you out, you wouldn’t be able to get onto Facebook, or look up what’s happening in the world on Twitter. You might have to walk down to your local cornershop and buy a newspaper. Like during the Pleistocene.
Mobile phones might be monitored, those damned toasters could listen in on those personal conversations about what you had for dinner last night and who Jenny is going out with. Your phonebook or caller ID could be deleted and you’d never know who was calling you. It’d be like something out of Dr Who.
The best way to avoid all of this would be to just chuck out all the electronic devices in your house, maybe grow some potatoes or whatever it is that people without computers do. Whilst you’re at it you may as well chuck out all your lighters and wheels.