Specific Items in The Intersection of SciFi and AI

AI-Related Movies, Articles, Books, and Authors in Science Fiction

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Overview of Movie Robots

The evolution of movie robots. By Chris Heard. BBC News (July 19, 2004). "I, Robot, starring Will Smith, has gone to the top of the US box office. Based on Isaac Asimov's classic robot novel, it joins a proud tradition of androids in the movies. The granddaddy of them all was Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis, in which a robot in the shape of beautiful female union leader Maria (Brigitte Helm) leads a revolt against their oppressors in a future dystopia."

Top 50 robots in SciFi Films. A personal list with a very personal ranking compiled by N.P. Horton, but a good rundown of 50 films in which intelligent robots play a central role. "Who doesn’t love robots? Our metal friends have long been a source of inspiration, wonder and fear for filmmakers and audiences. A way to examine our own humanity, and view emotions – or lack of them – from a new perspective, artificial intelligence has been in films for almost as long as we’ve been making them. " (April, 2012)

Some Specific Items Listed Alphabetically

Artificial Intelligence in Fiction, in Wikipedia, contains a long list of books and short stories, as well as movies, in which AI features prominently in various ways.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  • 2001 , The Movie

  • 2312

Review of Kim Stanley Robinson's "2312" by Michael Giltz (May 24, 2012). "The story takes place 300 years in the future. Humanity has expanded beyond the earth to colonize various planets and moons and asteroids and any other heavenly object you can name. Tension between the over-crowded dysfunctional earth and the people on the outer worlds is always high despite their mutual dependency. Limited resources, ever-lengthening lifespans (200+ years and counting), and good old lust for power are bringing the crisis to a head.
Terrorist acts soon sabotage the safety of everyone but who is committing them? Is it the work of multinational corporations still struggling to hold onto power? Resentful people trapped on a dying planet? Power brokers desperate to swing popular support to their own particular vision for the future? Or could it be the work of qubes, those quantum-based computers of a sort that serve as artificial intelligence and which apparently are starting to act "strangely" and may have achieved some sort of consciousness and -- along with it -- a desire to be free?"

  • The Adding Machine: Elmer Rice's 1923 expressionist classic
    • Elmer Rice's entry in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001, provided by
    • The Adding Machine. Reviewed by Michael Billington. The Guardian (February 28, 2004).
  • AI: the movie

Visit the "A.I." movie web site.

  • Asimov, Isaac

The Isaac Asimov Home Page contains a comprehensive collection of resources pertaining to the U.S. author Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), who in his lifetime wrote over 500 books that enlightened, entertained, and spanned the realm of human knowledge. One of the best known is "Robbie" (1940).

Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics -- separate page with discussions of the famous "three laws of robotics". The concept of rules of ethical conduct for robots was introduced as ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ by Asimov in his book Runaround originally published in 1942.

  • Bicentennial Man

Briefly mentioned in The Evolution of Movie Robots

  • Blade Runner (1982)
    • Blade Runner synopsis plus a question about falling in love with a machine.
    • How much of Blade Runner has come true? BBC News (February 6, 2001). "The 'replicant' androids which run amok in the film are greatly troubled by their lack of meaningful memories and emotional inexperience. The film's message has not been lost on those developing so-called artificial intelligence. Dr. Anne Foerst, an AI researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Lutheran minister, uses Blade Runner as a teaching aid. 'The movie raises this wonderful question: how do humanoid creatures feel about having been created by us and how do they deal with their human-made limitations?'"
  • Blinky
    • Is “Blinky” the horrible reality of a robotic future? Sebastian Haley , Venture Beat (April 21, 2012) . "Hollywood films warn of sentient artificial intelligence looking to overthrow and exterminate its human creators, .... Blinky, on the other hand, paints a much more likely reality of the dangers we may soon face as intelligent robotics become as commonplace as smartphones and voice-activated assistants like Siri. Blinky is a short film written, directed, and edited by Ruairi Robinson. The budget was 45,000 euro (approximately $60K U.S.) for the actual shoot, while the extensive visual effects were done almost entirely by Robinson himself. " with video clip
  • Bradbury, Ray

  • Forbidden Planet

(1956) Introduction of Robby, the first man-of-metAlthough Hollywood films warn of sentient artificial intelligence looking to overthrow and exterminate its human creators, they’re mostly a reason for their big-name stars to jump through the air in slow-motion while dual-wielding rocket-propelled grenade launchers while a hovership explodes behind them. Blinky, on the other hand, paints a much more likely reality of the dangers we may soon face as intelligent robotics become as commonplace as smartphones and voice-activated assistants like to be equipped with an Earth-bound personality and sense of humour. Briefly mentioned in The Evolution of Movie Robots

  • Gattica

  • Gibson, William
    • No more science fiction for William Gibson (11 June 2008) Science Fiction World, By John Howell. "the man who coined the phrase "Cyberspace" appears to believe that present day reality is so much like science fiction already that writing about the present is the same as writing science fiction?" Includes a brief overview of his work.
    • In 1994 science fiction author William Gibson published IDORU, a novel about a Japanese Pop star who was actually the holographic creation of a distributed artificial intelligence. See 2011 story from Rise Of The Machines: Japanese Popstar A Computer Construct with video.

  • iRobot

  • Rise of the Machines - Isaac Asimov turned androids into pop culture icons - and invented the science of robotics in the process. Now his classic I, Robot hits the big screen. By Cory Doctorow. Wired Magazine (July 2004; Issue 12.07). "This July, [Alex] Proyas turns again to his favored genre with I, Robot , an adaptation of Asimov's nine-story collection of the same name. ... As with all of Asimov's stories, the movie revolves around his Three Laws of Robotics, a set of rules governing android behavior. The central mystery: How could a robot programmed not to harm a human actually commit murder? Isaac Asimov wrote some 500 novels and short stories in his lifetime, and more than a thousand nonfiction essays. ... He penned dozens of stories devoted to androids with positronic brains, a term he invented to suggest an intelligent being, and coined the neologism robotics in the process. ... [H]e set out to reform the robot's bad rap, by making machines an example of how the world could be bettered through the mastery of technology. It embodied his hope for a rational, humanist way of being - the best and the worst of what it means to be a hairless ape. The robot was artificial intelligence in a man's shape, a foil for asking what it means to be human and what rules should govern us. With optimistic flourish, he believed robots could serve as an example of man's potential."
  • Check out the movie I, Robot (2004).
  • I, Robocop - Will Smith raps about busting bot outlaws, his secret geek past, and the future of thinking Machines. By Jennifer Hillner. Wired Magazine (July 2004; Issue 12.07). "WIRED: Are science fiction fans going to like this adaptation of Isaac Asimov's classic? SMITH: This movie has a twist at the end that is the science fiction fan's wet dream. Like in all Asimov's stories, the robots do something that seems to go against one of the Three Laws of Robotics, and then you figure out: No, it fits into the logical paradigm of the laws. ... What gadget would you like to take from one of the movies you've acted in? I, Robot has the ultimate home entertainment robot. It can read your vital signs, can tell you when it's time to have a checkup. Your robot can cook, clean, drive, take care of the children. ... What don't you want from one of these futures? ..."
  • Welsh uni to turn science fiction into fact. By David Williamson. The Western Mail / available from i c Wales (August 2, 2004). "Students at a Welsh university are to begin preparing for a world shared with intelligent robots. A new degree in robotics will teach students how to apply science fiction in science. The release of the big-screen adaptation of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot has fuelled speculation about whether robots designed as servants could attempt to become our masters. Dr Mike Reddy at the University of Glamorgan is determined to take these questions from the realm of science fiction and explore them in the new BSc Science (Robotics) degree. ... The science fiction of the 20th century, he argues, not only created the concept of the robot but demonstrated the complexity of the threats, opportunities and moral dilemmas their arrival would spark. ... The degree will be launched next year, but the areas involving the social and ethical concerns of scientists and the need for effective communication of scientific concepts with the public, can currently be studied in BSc (Hons) Science and Science Fiction."
  • Grau, Christopher. 2006. There Is No "I" in "Robot": Robots and Utilitarianism. IEEE Intelligent Systems 21(4): July/August 2006, 52 - 55. "Utilizing the film I, Robot as a springboard, this article considers the feasibility of robot utilitarians, the moral responsibilities that come with the creation of ethical robots, and the possibility of distinct ethics for robot-robot interaction as opposed to robot-human interaction." (Abstract & references only. This article is a revised and expanded version of “There is No ‘I’in ‘Robot’:Robotic Utilitarians and Utilitarian Robots", AAAI 2005 Fall Symposium on Machine Ethics.)

  • A Martian Odyssey (1934) by Stanley G. Weinbaum
  • The Matrix
  • Metropolis

Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi masterpiece briefly mentioned in The Evolution of Movie Robots

  • Michelmas by Algis Budrys

The Alien Novelist: The science fiction of Algis Budrys showed literary artistry. MIT Technology Review, November/December 2008. Excerpt about the novel Michaelmas.

Budrys wrote one more significant novel, Michaelmas. Its hero, Laurent Michaelmas, is ostensibly a wealthy, middle-aged news anchorman; 20 years before, however, he was a countercultural computer hacker who wrote a program, Domino, that's since grown into a sentient artificial intelligence distributed throughout the planet's digital networks. Domino empowers Michaelmas to be the world's hidden manager.

The theme of identity recurs. An astronaut believed dead is resurrected--he's a copy, of course--and Michaelmas, too, meets a replica of himself. Four features distinguish Michaelmas. First, it is the most polished example of Budrys's craft: the language is highly literary--striking metaphors and similes abound--and the narrative voice swoops imperceptibly from third person past to first person present; wonderful characters--an Ossetian cosmonaut, an aging newsman, a Turkish limousine chauffeur, and many others--are painted in quick, deft strokes; and the plot gallops across a single, eventful day and three continents. Second, there's Michaelmas himself: absolute power corrupts absolutely, in Lord Acton's phrase, and great men are nearly always bad men; yet ­Michaelmas is secretly a great man who remains benevolent and uncorrupted. Third, there's the persistent underlying note of melancholy: mourning his decades-dead wife, Michaelmas has no affectionate relationships other than the one with his creation, Domino; and our universe, it turns out, is just a fluke of information theory, tuned into existence by beings who themselves may be only drifting particles elsewhere in the multiverse.

Finally, there's the fact that Michaelmas depicts a near future that's now an alternative version of our immediate past. In many ways, it's a more attractive world, with a U.N. manned mission to the solar system's outer planets and less terrorism, war, and crime. In a similar way, it could be argued, Budrys's science fiction presents an alternative version of the genre--a promise of better possibilities that were never quite realized. Indeed, the bulk of Budrys's writing was published a half-century ago and isn't in print, though it's easily obtainable from online booksellers or brick-and-­mortar secondhand stores. You should make the effort. This is what science fiction can be but hardly ever is.

Mark Williams is a contributing editor to Technology Review.


  • Prey

I don't want to spoil the book for you if you haven't read it, but Michael Crichton's 2002 novel 'Prey' is an example of science fiction meeting the latest technology. In the novel, Crichton explores the use of a combination of nanotechnology, biotechnology and computer technology to create a swarm of self-sustaining, self-reproducing micro-robots that are capable of learning from experience. These micro-robots have been programmed to prey on humans - and, through self-learning capabilities, they keep getting more and more dangerous. From Multi-agent technology: removing the 'artificial' from AI By: Fran Howarth, Practice Leader, Bloor Research Published: 18th March 2004.

  • Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus arrived in theaters [June 16-17, 2012], and like previous films by the Alien and Blade Runner director, future-world technology plays a big role in the universe his characters inhabit.

  • Reynolds, Alastair

Alastair Reynolds' Bio with links to information about his novels and stories, some of which incorporate AI in their themes.

  • Robopocalypse

Review by Damien Walter in The Guardian (July 12, 2011). " Daniel H Wilson's novel, Robopocalypse, comes pre-packaged with two Unique Selling Points. First, that the author holds a Phd in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, and is hence more than just another oddball SF writer with an overactive imagination. And that, having been bought by Steven Spielberg for production "even before it was finished", the novel is already a success, and nothing breeds success like success. If the point of a book's title is to let the reader (or potential Hollywood producer) know exactly what is inside the tin, then Robopocalypse succeeds admirably. No doubt the sequels Zombiegeddon and Alienvasion have already been commissioned (from other suitably qualified experts). The robot uprising is an idea that Hollywood has aleady seeded among the masses through the Terminator and Matrix movie franchises, and Robopocalypse arrives at the most convenient possible time to reap the box-office rewards."

  • Robocop
  • Robot Stories

Robot Stories, With a Heart. By Jason Silverman. Wired News (February 18, 2004). "Genre fans won't confuse Robot Stories with the typical studio sci-fi flick -- the film's entire budget would have paid for less than 30 seconds of Terminator 3. Writer and director Greg Pak used mixing bowls, pink paint and $300 of spare parts to build his most elaborate robot, and recorded household appliances for sound effects. But the tiny budget hasn't slowed the film, which has won more than 20 festival awards and is now beginning a national tour. ... 'I wasn't trying to remake The Matrix. Instead, I wanted to play with the genre and explore a certain tradition of science fiction that I love.' ... 'Probably 90 percent of robot stories are variations on the Frankenstein theme, with the machines eventually going haywire,' Pak said. 'I think those stories have given us this preconception that once machines become sentient beings they'll want to destroy all humans. That may be, but I was interested in the idea that these machines, once they begin to think and learn and feel, will want to find some sort of connection. And so they will give us an expanded notion of what it means to be human.'"

  • Also see the Synopsis at the Robot Stories web site: "My Robot Baby - Before they can adopt a human child, young professionals Marcia (Tamlyn Tomita) and Roy (James Saito) must prove themselves by taking care of a robot baby. ... The Robot Fixer - Bernice Chin (Wai Ching Ho) has never really known her estranged son Wilson. Now a car accident has put Wilson into a coma. And the only clue he's left behind is a box of twenty-year-old toy robots. ... Machine Love - The latest component of the digital office, the Sprout G9 iPerson is a walking, talking coding machine programmed to fit seamlessly into its work environment by learning from its human co-workers. ... Clay - In John Lee's world, technology allows people to scan their memories - and thus their consciousness - into computers. John (Sab Shimono), an old sculptor, struggles to complete his design for a major public square project, but his body is falling apart. ... "
  • ... and listen to 'Robot Stories' Director Greg Pak. Fresh Air (radio interview; March 3, 2004). WHYY-FM.
  • R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), by Karel Capek:
    • A fascinating collection from Gloria McMillan that includes an excerpt from the play, some quotations from Karel Capek, and even some reviews from the 1920's.
    • Plot summary and links. from Dennis G. Jerz, Associate Professor, Seton Hill University
    • And what does the question Where did the word "robot" come from? have to do with this play?
    • The Robots Among Us - If robotics technology now stands where computing did in the '70s, what can we expect in the future? By Tom Abate. San Francisco Chronicle (December 7, 2007). If the problem is one of definition, then blame falls squarely on Czech playwright Karel Capek, who coined the term in his 1921 play, 'R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots.' In it Capek (pronounced Cha-pek) develops what has since become a familiar theme: Humans create smart but soulless automatons to do the grunt work, but this supposedly servile race rises up and destroys it creators. ... If robotics appears poised to ride the same rocket that carried computing from silly to serious in our lifetime, it seems prudent to wonder in advance how 'bots will change war, work, even sex in our children's lifetimes - the only real issue in that last regard being which generation becomes the early adopters, and whether robo-shrinks can help them deal with the emotional fallout. Alas, those answers are no clearer today than they were nearly a century ago when Karel Capek first conceived of robots and imagined both their utopian and dystopian potential to give us lives of ease and luxury or to replace and supplant us. Responding to the stir created by 'R.U.R: Rossum's Universal Robots,' Capek wrote in 1923: 'In the play, the factory director ... establishes that technical progress emancipates man from hard manual labor, and he is quite right. (His idealistic foil), to the contrary, believes that technological progress demoralizes him, and I think he is right, too.'"

  • The Sandman

The Sandman. By E.T.A. Hoffmann (1817). Translated from the German by Robert Godwin-Jones, Foreign Language Department, Virginia Commonwealth University. "Before I proceed to tell you, gentle reader, what more befell the unfortunate Nathaniel, should you by chance take an interest in that skilful optician and automaton-maker Spalanzani, I can inform you that he was completely healed of his wounds. He was, however, obliged to leave the university, because Nathaniel's story had created a sensation, and it was universally considered a quite unpardonable trick to smuggle a wooden doll...."

  • Short Circuit
  • Star Wars

Science of 'Star Wars' - How Scientists Use the 'Force' Pop Culture Icon Inspired a Generation of Curious Minds. By Ashley Phillips. ABC News (May 25, 2007). "As Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader pulled out their light sabers for a deadly battle 30 years ago today, "Stars Wars" movie-goers asked themselves one thing: Where can I get one of those? ... But in 1977, the groundbreaking fan favorite did more than just secure its place in Americana -- it also captured the hearts and minds of scientists of the '70s and a few younger, budding lab rats waiting in the wings. ... 'I think the influence is huge,' Michio Kaku, one of the world's most prominent physicists and the co-founder of string field theory, told 'Many people don't realize that science fiction has been an inspiration for the world's leading scientists.' The most prominent areas of research inspired by the film are 'hyper drive,' ... and robotics research inspired by Luke Skywalker's ever-reliable R2D2 and somewhat neurotic C3PO. ... Similarly, Kaku says, some people saw the movies' robots and started working in artificial intelligence theory to create robots of their own. While researching 'Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination,' a traveling museum exhibition ... exhibit developer Ed Rodley found similar phenomena. 'We interviewed roboticists all over the world … and they all said where they were, how old they were when they saw "Star Wars" and how that had an effect on their decision [to become roboticists],'" Rodley said. ... Kaku said the film was more than just a fairy tale. ... 'For us it's more than just fantasy. It's like, what if? What if we can become a scientist to prove this thing is possible? It's a challenge.'"

  • The Stepford Wives

They make mistakes -- they're only inhuman. By Peter Howell. Toronto Star (June 20, 2004). "The artificial women of mythical Stepford would be right at home with the artificial men of I, Robot, another movie out this summer about a brave new world of people living with sentient machines. ... The Stepford Wives and I, Robot are cautionary tales of the perils of allowing humans to be stripped of their humanity, which happens when you replace emotional people with thinking but unfeeling machines. The concept of the perfect mechanical being has long both fascinated and repelled us. ... Call it fear of robots, and it's one of the most enduring of all sci-fi psychoses. Czech playwright Karel Capek first used the term 'robot,' in his 1921 work R.U.R. about mechanical humans who rebel against their masters. The popular play was an inspiration for George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. But long before Capek and Orwell, the concept of the non-human humanoid was on the mind of artists. The Greek poet Homer wrote in The Iliad, more than 2,500 years ago, about the creation of the female figure Pandora, a name meaning 'all gifted.' She is crafted out of clay at the instruction of the god Zeus, and appears to be a gift beyond compare. ... Movies have become our most popular way of dramatizing our fear of robots, and have long been so.... Yet still we have faith in machines, because we desire the world of peace, order and leisure they offer us."

  • The Terminator
  • Tron, 1982 Movie and 2010 Remake


  • Westworld
  • Without a Thought (1963) by Fred Saberhagen

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