AI: A little inside info

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 00:42:26 MDT

Here I've been so busy playing the free AI game that Sean Stewart has
written for this movie that I've forgotten to drop by. I'd forgotten
how nice it is to be surrounded by intelligent extropians. :)

BTW, if you HAVEN'T played the game, or at least taken a look... well,
you're missing out, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm now going to put in some spoiler space, since it's the
ending that deserves the most discussion.

So, it was not Kubrick's original intention to resurrect David's mom
by use of a bit of her hair, only to have her die a day later.

No, he'd intended a full-on Tiplerian simulated resurrection. No hair
needed, thank you! We'll just base her on your recollections of her,
David! Now, isn't this wonderful? You get to live in this simulated
house with your simulated mother in a simulated real boy body FOREVER!

It's the ultimate perversion of what David has always wanted: he
wanted to become part of the Real, but instead, he ends his days
enjoying the Artificial. That's Kubrick's sense of irony for you.
It's also rather hard science fiction. (Hell, Tipler has predicted
that this will actually happen!)

It is my belief that Spielberg was unhappy with irony of this kind,
and that this is why he'll always be a rather juvenile director. I
think it was NOT his intention that David was living in a simulation
at the end of the movie. I think it was his intention that David's
fortuitous hair-snatching managed to resurrect his mother, for Real,
if only for a little while.

With that said, I don't think Spielberg's intentions have to dominate
our interpretation of the film. The BEST interpretation of the film
is one in which Kingsley's character, the narrator/robot, is
unreliable, or at least deceptive. He doesn't tell David that it's
all just a simulation; he fails to mention that they're only
resurrecting his mother for a day because that's all the energy
they're prepared to waste on him. He just lets David believe that his
mother is Real.

(BTW, there's no reason to think that simulation of this kind would be
cheap or easy... if Tipler's right and it turns out that we have
infinite resources available to put to the task, then more's the
merrier, but barring that, we should expect it to be quite costly, at
least at first.)

One can just imagine Kingsley's character responding to my charges of
unreliability with Obiwan's old line: "You're going to find that many
of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
After all, didn't Tipler argue that simulated resurrection IS
resurrection? Surely Kingsley's character could argue that, in a
sense, she really WAS resurrected.

So, ultimately, if we simply interpret Kingsley's character as having
a Tiplerian point-of-view, according to which simulated resurrection
just IS resurrection, and in which David exists only in simulation,
the movie turns out better. MUCH better than Spielberg ever
intended. :)

As for the rest of the movie... I think the majority of reviewers are
right about the film's being a general failure. It failed to move me.
It failed to move anyone I know, actually, and since I've spent so
much of my time over the last few months playing the game, I've
unwittingly recommended it to quite a few people.

The Flesh Fair was just muddled. I had no feeling for the melting
robots... no time to develop an emotional bond to them. That should
have been the easy part... but it didn't work.

As Salon's reviewer pointed out, Spielberg bent so far over backwards
to get over his past that he undermined his foundations. Take the
moon, for example. The moon in E.T. (Spielberg's other, far better,
movie with initials in it!) was the symbol of ultimate freedom: with
alien powers on your side, you can fly to the MOON!

But in this story, the "moon" is nothing more than a giant blimp used
by robophobic carnies... all the better with which to see the mechas
below and capture them for the Fair.

Yet who felt terrified that David would be caught?

I for one had no sympathy whatsoever for him when he decided to bash
David 2's brains out.

In fact, throughout, I felt ambivalent towards David. Liking him one
minute, disliking him the next, never really getting the chance to
make a connection with him.

FWIW, I feel Monica's confusion.

Anyway, despite all this, the game is... well, it's unimaginably
better than the movie. I mean it. There's just no comparison AT
ALL. Go! Go now!




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