June 17th, 2014

Dalek Doll

Who Will Fight the Robots?

Emilia Clarke, Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, has been cast as Sarah Connor in the upcoming Terminator movie. She follows her Game of Thrones costar Lena Headey who played Sarah Connor on the too short lived television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This morning I found myself imagining the Game of Thrones characters being cast instead of the actors and imagined what it would be like if Daenerys went to Cersei for advice.

CERSEI: I remember being Sarah Connor. I was nine. Or maybe thirty, I don't know. Anyway, that's why I drink wine.


CERSEI: Well, you're very pretty aren't you. And so bright eyed and eager, I'm sure you'll be just terrific.

DAENERYS: I will fight to protect my son. I will do what ever it takes to ensure the survival of my son and the human race if it means destroying every last machine.

Cersei applauds and drinks more wine.

CERSEI: That's lovely. That's great. Perhaps you'll even remember that when you watch your son's skull cracking under the foot of some spindly metal skeleton man. Cersei wistfully looks up at the ceiling as she swirls wine in her goblet.

DAENERYS: Sneering If that's your attitude it's no wonder your show fell. I can see now that I will provide what you lacked, I will bring success to the Terminator franchise by refusing to bend, by holding true to my course however much bloodshed may lie in my path! You--you can stay here with your bitterness and your wine!

CERSEI: Smiling down at her cup Yes, I think I'll stay here. And I will still be here when you're on Dancing with the Stars, Darling.

. . .

Maybe I'll wait for Maisie Williams to be cast in the role. Not that I particularly dislike Emilia Clarke but I really like Lena Headey. I hope Cersei has a bigger, more complicated part to play next season.

Speaking of living with artificial humans, I watched the first episode of Real Humans last night, a Swedish Science Fiction series that began airing in 2012. io9 called it, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with robots," which is true in much the way Let the Right One In is Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with vampires and Seventh Seal is Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with chess. Which is to say, it's Swedish, and that's about all these works have in common. It's far more appropriate to compare it to I, Robot or, as many have, to Blade Runner. It's not a bad show though the first episode is full of obtrusive flaws.

It's about an alternate reality where androids are a part of daily life as personal servants and factory workers. The title, Real Humans, refers to a reactionary group of humans who resent the encroachment of artificial lifeforms into society. The show follows a family who purchase a "hubot", as they're called, for the first time, a man who's jealous of his wife's attachment to a hubot, and a group of hubots who have rebelled and are on the run.

There are problems. There's a scene where a man bargains for a black market hubot followed by a scene where he gives away that same hubot for free. A few character motives don't add up.

I generally consider it a mistake for a work in this genre to waste too much time on whether the AI is sentient--when you're dealing with fiction anyway, the revelation is kind of meaningless. One of the reasons Blade Runner is so good is that it takes the intelligence of Replicants as fact from the beginning, allowing the movie to examine the concept of people created by people and the impact of being such a being in such a society.

So far the most interesting aspect of Real Humans is in how the humans integrate hubots into their lives. A subplot about a family arguing over the need to get a hubot to take care of grandfather had some interesting resonance and it makes it easy to see how a servant class fits neatly into normal life.