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Surrogates

This week-end I found this movide hiding in a bin by my DVD-dealer, and the synopsys interested me enough to pick it up. Unfortunately the result was quite dissappointing.

The story is quite standard: it's half an hour past the future and (as usual) humanity managed to misuse the latest medical/humanitarian invention in the most ludicrous way possible. In the specific the 'invention' is a way to directly control a prosthetnic limb with some sort of 'brain' interface. This way paraplegic peoples could be more self-sufficient. Up to the point when somebody decide that you can also control a robotic body even if your body is perfectly fine, but this way you don't have to bother with your "real" apparence, the "surrogate" can look fantastic anyway. This means that basically everybody (and when I say 'everybody' I really mean it) ends up hiding in some hole while their 'perfect' robotic bodies goes around doing their jobs.

One of the effects of this (says the movie) is that criminality drops to nothing. Another effect is that the inventor of the original bits gets incredibly pissed off and begin to think if this is the right way to do things while a faction of super-extremists begins to predicate (with very strong religious tones) a return to normality and the destruction of all the surrogates.

Everything fine until someone uses some kind of 'gun' (a mix between a blender and a flashlight) to 'fry' one of the surrogates and (as we discover later) the remote operator of the same. A couple of FBI agents are sent to investigate and they quickly discover that the extremist faction is in possess of the "gun", in the course of the "investigation" the surrogate of one of the two agents is destroyed, this forces the real agent to get out of his hole and go around "in the flesh".

But who the heck built the weapon? Is quickly discovered that this gun is the product of a military-sponsored project carried out by the very same company that is producing the surrogates. But (according to them) the whole project has been dropped when they discovered that the gun was killing the operators and all the prototypes destroyed.

The army tries to recover the gun and in the process the 'spiritual leader' of the extremists gets killed. And we find out that he was a 'surrogate' too, piloted by the very same surrogates' inventor. Now that he has the gun he decide to connect somehow this thing to the whole network and basically fry the whole humanity (not a bad idea if you ask me). But of course the hero gets in at the last moment and the result is that only the surrogates are fried while the bad guy is killed (sorry about that, but I thought you could have expected a plot point like "the bad guy dies"!). The humanity emerges from their burrows blinking in the light, everybody is happy etc. etc.

Now, like I said, this movie was a big delusion. The reason I got it was because of the premises, that reminded me of a good book I read long time ago: The Modular Man, by Roger MacBride Allen, In that book there is more or less the same idea, but it is carried away in a much more compelling way. Unfortunately, the movie refuses to carry on in a logical way and goes on with the usual "hollywoodian" way (aka: 'xplosions and gun fights).

For example: the introduction of 'surrogates' suddendly bring criminality down 99%... but why? One theory could be that since everybody is at home piloting his own surrogate, thieves and robberies are prevented, but you only need to read a paper to see that thieves don't have too many trouble in getting into an house even when it is occupied, banks and other places are regularly attacked during the day. In the movie is suggested that while somebody is controlling a surrogate his perception of the world is severly limited (the world around his real body that is), if this is true then a thief could do whatever he wants. The society that the movie shows is the same as ours: cars all over the place. Then car thieves should also be there. The same goes for other crimes. And let's not begin with forgeries. Since everybody is going around piloting a robot that doesn't look very much like himself, how are you sure that he is really he and not somebody else? Evidently this 'zero crime' idea is the holy grail for American's society and movie industry alike.

Another thing that looks odd is: cars everywhere. And they have to be driven by the various 'surrogates'... ok, let's see: you've built a robot that can go around doing what you want and that can even have sex (or so it seems), however you can't figure out an 'autopilot' for cars? Moreover, what the heck are you doing with a car? The robots doesn't get tired, why don't you send it with a bycicle? Why not keeping it in the office? In the morning you simply plugin and you're already there, no need to go around. But no. Cars everywhere. Evidently americans can't figure out a society without cars.

Then there is the "gun" that can destroy the robot and the pilot at the same time. And obviously everybody deny involvment and claims that "all the prototypes have been destroyed"... But why? It looks to me that such weapon should be at the first place in the agenda of every gun manufacturer/army/police force/terrorist organization in the world. A threat has effect only if it can be carried out. Likewise, the threat of "extreme force" has effect only if you can actually use "extreme force" against the threatened, but if he is actually a remote controlled robot and the real pilot is safely several kilometers away then threat is meaningless.

We could actually argue that such situation will bring to the abuse of normal weapon all the time, without even the 'threat' phase. Especially when every robot is capable of superhuman feats, like jumping 8 times his own height, getting repeteadly shot in the guts, falling several stories and then carring on like nothing. A gun that could seriusly injure the pilot, no matter where he is, looks to me like the only solution in that case.

Then there is the problem of identification. We have enough problems already in demonstrating our own identity (id cards, pictures, fingerprints, it won't take too much to get retinal scan and probably dna too). Cases of 'identity thiefs' begin to grow, fake credit cards and the like are reported daily. Add to this mechanical puppets and you have the receipt for a disaster.

And last but not least there is the problem of privacy. In the movie it's shown what can happen when everybody "see" and "hear" through a robot, that the stream of informations can be tapped into it and this will give enormous amount of blackmail capabilities to somebody. But again the point is just brushed aside.

But the most dissappointing bit for me is that after mounting an "action" final (with chasing, gun fights and the like) with the destruction of all the surrogate in the whole world, in a pathetic montage of wrecked cars and disabled robots all over the place, the thing is played like "everybody is happy, kumbaja' kumbaja'". I suppose that confronted with a catachlism that rever the entire way of life of the entire planet at once, the results would be much more violent and probably chaotics as well.

Let's imagine now that, for some reason, all the computers in the world cease to function. All of them. Now let's think to the consequencese. What is not a computer or is not dependent by computers in our world? Not much. Such an event will bring 3/4 of the planet back about 200 years. Not so much "kumbaja'".

Let's not forget also that in the movie is clearly shown that the military are using surrogates too for "peacekeeping operations". The moment all the robots are shut down, somebody is going to grab all the left over equipment from the hands of disabled robots. Now let's immagine a situation in which the entire US Army equipment (tanks, ships, planes...) are in the hands of somebody else... Yeah, right, there will be security and safeties and the like, but still a sizeable part of the US military machine has suddendly shifter. Not a good prospect.

In short, good idea but horrid execution. Instead of working with the premises and presenting some thought the director has choosen to go with a cheap and predictable 'action' movie.

Davide Bianchi
01/03/2010 15:03

Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

14 messages this document does not accept new posts
Matteo ItaliaSurrogate (pairs) By Matteo Italia - posted 01/03/2010 11:44
Dė quello che vuoi, ma la verità è che ti aspettavi un film su Unicode, per questo che ci sei rimasto male.

--
Matteo Italia


interceptorMa tu... By interceptor - posted 01/03/2010 12:29

... lo dici se fai uno spoiler, vero?
Tipo "... e la cosa più stupida è che alla fine anche lui è morto!"

Ciao

--
interceptor


Davide Bianchi@ interceptor By Davide Bianchi - posted 01/03/2010 12:33

> ... lo dici se fai uno spoiler, vero?

Non mi piacciono gli spoiler, non li monto mai sulla macchina.

--
Davide Bianchi


Golan Trevizesai qual č il problema? By Golan Trevize - posted 01/03/2010 12:40

Pensi troppo.
Cosa che non fa l'umanoide americano medio mentre ingurgita popcorn e tracanna coca mentre guarda il film al cinema ed esulta quando i buoni fanno scoppiare la testa agli zombies cattivi.

Nota a margine: ho come la sensazione che agli americani non gliene frega nulla di quel che pensa il resto del mondo dei loro film.

E questo lo fanno anche i grandi, tipo la Disney/Pixar! Basta pensare a Cars, sono macchine Nascar, campionato solo americano, oppure alla Principessa e il Ranocchio che è fastidiosamente per soli americani. Difficile per un europeo (ma non solo) capire l'atmosfera di New Orleans, Jazz, Bayou e tutto il resto.

--
Son poi quello lė.


Davide Bianchi@ Golan Trevize By Davide Bianchi - posted 01/03/2010 13:39

> Pensi troppo.

Si', quel vizio ancora non sono riuscito a perderlo...

--
Davide Bianchi


Simone@ Davide Bianchi By Simone - posted 01/03/2010 14:02

> > Pensi troppo.
>
> Si', quel vizio ancora non sono riuscito a perderlo...
>

di solito pure io analizzo cosė i film e tutti si lamentano sempre soprattutto dopo il cinema con gli amici (ora so che ci sono tanti fan di star wars.... quindi evito tutti i commenti che ho fatto dopo aver visto star wars).

in effetti a pensare a tutte le caspiate che ci sono nei film si finisce per non godersi una storia (seppur stupida) ma sempre meglio che nulla

--
- Simone


Claiudio claiudio@libero.it@ Davide Bianchi By Claiudio claiudio@libero.it - posted 01/03/2010 14:34

> > Pensi troppo.
>
> Si', quel vizio ancora non sono riuscito a perderlo...
Come il plugin "onesta'" ?

--
Claiudio claiudio@libero.it


Edoardo MantovaniContinuando cosi' .. By Edoardo Mantovani - posted 01/03/2010 13:54

... Smonterai tutta Hollywood ;-\)

non oso immaginare quando ti guarderai avatar come lo giudicherai ;-\)

vedo che le tue analisi sono molto pragmatiche, molto simili alle visioni future di asimoov

--
Se il problema non ha soluzione perche' ti arrabbi?
Se il problema ha soluzione perche' ti arrabbi?
Ma soprattutto, se non sei parte della soluzione
Allora sei parte del problema.


Davide Bianchi@ Edoardo Mantovani By Davide Bianchi - posted 01/03/2010 15:05

> non oso immaginare quando ti guarderai avatar come lo giudicherai ;-\)

Ma infatti non intendo vederlo.

--
Davide Bianchi


EnricoCaspetto con ansia.... By EnricoC - posted 02/03/2010 03:49

...il tuo commento su Avatar,

perché il mio... no, non vorrei influenzarvi!

Intanto sul resto di Hollywood la pensiamo uguale (anche se non ne ho visto uno sull'ultimo star trek)

buona (notte) giornata

--
EnricoC


JokerSurrogati By Joker - posted 02/03/2010 15:13

Mi sfunge il senso alla base del tutto.
Perchè mai una persona dovrebbe desiderare di fare il vegetale e pilotare un fantoccio che "vive" al suo posto?

--
Joker


Davide Bianchi@ Joker By Davide Bianchi - posted 02/03/2010 16:02

> Perchè mai una persona dovrebbe desiderare di fare il vegetale e pilotare un fantoccio che "vive" al suo posto?

Perche' tu ti presenti qui' sulla sinistra con una faccia che di certo non e' la tua ed un nome che di certo non e' il tuo?

--
Davide Bianchi


robiboMa.... By robibo - posted 03/03/2010 10:05

Mi sembra di capire che il comando dei surrogati fosse tramite la mente dell'umano.
Quindi se il tuo surrogato deve, p.e., andare al lavoro per 8 ore tu per 8 ore non potevi pensare ad altro che non fosse il controllo del tuo surrogato?
E dov'è il vantaggio?
Me lo immaginavo io in branda con chi mi pare a me e il surrogato a smazzarsi tutto il resto.

--
robibo


Davide Bianchi@ robibo By Davide Bianchi - posted 03/03/2010 10:10

> Quindi se il tuo surrogato deve, p.e., andare al lavoro per 8 ore tu per 8 ore non potevi pensare ad altro che non fosse il controllo del tuo surrogato?
> E dov'è il vantaggio?

Il 'vantaggio' sarebbe nel fatto che non devi apparire 'presentabile' (aka: ridurti la faccia a brandelli per farti la barba tutte le mattine et similia). Quanto sia un vantaggio dipende da te.

--
Davide Bianchi


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