TIFF 2018: The Truth About Killer Robots

Robot face in Ricky Ma's laboratory in Hong Kong in The Truth About Killer Robots, directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin. Courtesy of HBO Documentary Films.

The Truth About Killer Robots follows three unfortunate deaths caused by robots as well as the aftereffects a way of examining the technology at hand.

As we go move further along into the 21st century, technology is catching up to the science fiction work of the past.  Sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov or Phillip K. Dick could never have anticipated reality catching up to their work.  Asimov was writing about robots during the 1940s.  I bet he never anticipated people walking around with a computer in their pockets!  With all due respect to Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, we’re still waiting on flying cars.

While writing in the 1940s, it was Asimov who wrote laws regarding the protection of humans from robots.  The very first law stated: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”  Well, I hate to break it to you but we’re already there.

Director Maxim Pozdorovkin focuses on a select number of deaths caused by robots and studies the automation that led us to this point.  It’s not just in America.  The effects are being felt all over the globe such as in Germany and China.  Dallas suffered one of their worst incidents by far as robotic technology takes over for human workers.  It makes one begin to wonder if we’re coming close to Terminator‘s Skynet becoming reality!

It is not only that the days are numbered in Germany for those working on automobiles but one of their own lost their life at the Volkswagen factory.  Meanwhile in China, the increasing dependence of robotic technology has forced human employees to search for other work.  Factory employees from the Foxconn recruiting center have found themselves having to look for work in the service industry instead.  This isn’t right nor fair but it is what it is.

What happened in Dallas is troubling because of how close it hits to home.  This doesn’t make what happens around the globe any less awful.  It just shows that our own first responders are not ready to handle these incidents.  It’s very telling when the Dallas chief of police does not ask for more police officers but more technology.  Better technology helps with response time and improving statistics but they are not the be all, end all.  Technology can help catch criminals quicker but G-d forbid that two people look similar and the wrong person gets killed.  That’s the chief risk of turning things over to computers.

One of the Dallas folks interviews spoke of the need for more officers.  It would go a long way in making the force feel less automated and more personal in their words.  This is not too much to ask for.

For all our fears of our computers and such turning on us like in the Terminator franchise, there is some good out there.  The question that we must ask ourselves in viewing The Truth About Killer Robots is simple.  How much technology is too much technology?

DIRECTOR:  Maxim Pozdorovkin
FEATURING:  Brandon Ackerman, John Campbell, Wang Chao, Julia Collins, Connie Donley, Martin Ford, Sami Haddadin, Sakurai Hideaki, Zheng Hou, Wu Huifen, Tim Hwang, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Zheng Jiajia, Luo Jun, Sven Kühling, Nozomi Niigaki, Illah Nourbakhsh, Mike Paluska, Marios Savvides, Bobby Vankaveelar, Christoph Walter, Chris Webb, Götz Wied, Coco Zhao

The Truth About Killer Robots held its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Docs program.  The documentary will air on HBO this November.  English, Mandarin, Japanese, and German with English subtitles.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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