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S1m0ne and (other?) Chatbot films at WRT: Writer Response Theory




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WRT is searching for films that include chatbots or talking computers beyond the usual 2001 et al.

s1moneThere are several lists of movies featuring robots or replicants, ala Blade Runner, but WRT’s list will be more oriented towards simple-reflex agents without physical bodies. Of course, we may also have to exclude movies with talking computer interfaces (ala Star Trek) in order to keep the list under control.  Perhaps a better idea would be films that have a prominent character that is a chatbot–or perhaps where the computer-generated speech is central.

To clarify this search, we might take up a borderline case, the 2001 release S1m0ne, written and directed by Andrew Niccol.  The question remains, is this film about a chatbot or conversation agents or just about a 3-D CGI puppet?

AGAINST

  • S1M0NE is a puppet, akin to Kaya (by Brazilian artist Alceu Baptistăo) or the other contestants in Miss Digital World.
  • S1M0NE appears only in prerecorded segments and live manipulation, as opposed to generating output in reaction to input
  • S1M0NE only interacts with people in puppet-mode

FOR 

  • S1M0NE’s concert performance was inspired by Ray Kurweil’s virtual concert as Ramona, who also has a chatbot instantiation.
  • S1M0NE seems to omit her producer Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) from the “thank yous” in her acceptance speech atkaya.jpg the Academy Awards.
  • The film focusses on Synthespians which relates to much chatbot research.

 Again, this list could include all robot films, but it would be more interesting to make a list with just chatbots.

Here’s a starter list:
Excuse Me, But There’s a Computer Asking for You (1983)
WarGames (1983)
A.I. (2001) (Because of Dr. Know)
Teknolust (2002) (featuring Agent Ruby)

Writers Respond Thus.

(The image of s1m0ne was created using TypeDrawing by Hansol Huh discussed here.)



7 Responses to “S1m0ne and (other?) Chatbot films”

  1. 1 Jeremy Douglass

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    I’m trying to come to grips with the guiding principle behind this list.

    First, the chatbot must be a major ‘character’ - that is, one of the central personalities of the film, not an invisible butler operating a door etc. Got that.

    Second, the chatbot must be incorporeal - not Data, not Johnny Five, but something characterized by voice or text interaction.

    Presumably what follows from this assumption is that the primary impact of the chatbot on the film will be conversational - it will have a significant intellectual or emotional interaction.

    But (to follow this to its conclusion) this means that HAL is a big problem for your list. Because HAL is a very significant conversational interlocutor. However he is ALSO very much corporeal, he just isn’t humaoid - his body is the ship. Should HAL be disallowed because he exhibits physical agency?

    I’m headed towards the cartesian mind-body problem here. Let’s say we have a movie about a computer program that talks… but at some point it becomes physically consequential, for example taking control of some sort of computer-controlled technology such as automatic doors, security systems etc. etc. Does consequential action disqualify it from the list?

    Or is it a question of emphasis… “movies with programs primarily characterized by conversational interaction” perhaps? If so, HAL would seem to qualify.

  2. 2 Mark Marino

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    I like your rearrangement of the categories.

    To tell you the truth, I excluded 2001 not because it didn’t fit my interests but because it is already enshrined in the hallowed halls of chatbot legacies, not least of all because of chatbots that take on its surname (Megahal, Hal, etc.).

    That said, I think you use HAl well here to clearly define the category. I just want to add to: “Movies with programs primarily characterized by conversational interaction” the notion of some sort of emphasis on these characters or that draw attention to the aspect of their talking.

    The computer-controlled technology should fit here, as long as the programs (also) engage in personified symbolic exchange.

  3. 3 Toronto movie guide

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    If you are looking for films of any kind just visit eg.: Toronto movie guide . It was a great help for me when I was looking for films. These robot movies of yours caught my interest as well, so thanks for the information Mark, I just hope they are not too far-fetched :)

  4. 4 Mr. Movies

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    Are you asking for titles of any movies with chatbots?

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