Blade Runner, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick
Blade Runner has become the quintessential classic, a Science Fiction motion picture that is among the Top Rated Movies by audiences – at an honorable 151 – has a Metascore of 89 and a recent sequel that has disappointed, in spite of the impressive firepower engaged – stars, storyline and finances.
Nevertheless, some viewers may wonder why does the film enjoy such a tremendous reputation, especially younger people who have been used with recent special effects that make the ones used in this original version seem antiquated and somewhat comical.
Harrison Ford – before his strange hobby of flying in dangerous ways over California airports took off – has the leading role of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter of the future – set here in the twenty first century.
Four replicants have escaped their plight – one may choose to take this view of the rights of the robots, which is what the replicants are – they took a ship and have travelled to earth, where they are wanted.
In this vision of the future – which is not that farfetched, given the advances of Artificial Intelligence to date – replicants are so similar to humans that it is very difficult to identify one.
Indeed, in one of the early scenes, an expert is trying to understand if the creature, the apparition in front of him is human or a robot and asks questions from the past, irritating the interlocutor to the point where he takes a gun out and kills the interviewer, thus eliminating the need for further Turing tests.
This is the dark side, the Artificial Intelligence – which according to the Singularity Theory would surpass that of human beings sometime in 2035 or thereabouts – that is dangerous and kills people.
However, there is the other side, beautiful, caring – which sounds like an oxymoron for a robot – even kind, in the shape and form of Rachael, a replicant that is so far advanced that memories have been inserted in her brain and a relationship develops between her and the hero.
Rick Deckard meets with this splendid “woman” and he becomes attracted to her, in spite of the apparent impossibility of emotions, sentiments when we talk about humans and Artificial Intelligence.
The subject is also developed in the extraordinary Her – written and directed by Spike Jonze, with the phenomenal Joaquin Phoenix, wonderful Amy Adams and the seductive, luring voice of Scarlett Johansson in the role of…an OS aka Operating System.
Indeed, the issue of dealing with Artificial Intelligence is paramount, as it is so developed today when we have self-driving cars developed by an increasing number of companies, from Google to Volvo, from Tesla to Uber and so many other domains where AI is more and more predominant.
Some luminaries are concerned and express the opinion that the future of AI would pose great dangers – one if Elon Musk – but if we take the example of self-driving cars, they would not just dramatically reduce the number of accidents, but would change the way people use cars, share vehicles and the congestion on the roads would be drastically reduced by AI at the wheel of cars.
Leon Kowalski, the replicant who has killed his analyst, meets with Rick Deckard and is about to kill him, when counterintuitively one might say, Rachael saves the man she loves and eliminates one of the replicants, respecting the First of the three robot laws, which is not to hurt a human.
Counterintuitively refers to the fact that she is a replicant and the premise here is that these are bad characters that need to be eliminated – which means destroyed, without trial, further analysis or anything else.
The mastermind of the robot group is one Roy Batty, played by the wondrous, excellent in roles of villains, Rutger Hauer, and his companions are Pris, portrayed by the splendid, remarkable Daryl Hannah, and Zhora.
Roy has a shrewd plan; he uses a software developer who has contributed considerably to the “birth” of the replicants to get access to the genius that has created this new generation of fantastic robots, Dr. Eldon Tyrell, the latter plays chess with the software engineer and always wins, with one exception.
Beyond Singularity, Artificial Intelligence would beat humans at almost any – if not all – intelligent tasks - indeed, some say that humans would be limited to menial jobs – and computers have beaten humans at chess quite a few years ago and more recently, DeepMind machines have beaten the world champions at perhaps the most complicated game…that of Go.
Roy Batty makes some outstanding moves – as is to be expected from so far advanced an artificial brain- and wins the chess game, provoking his creator – a future replica of Frankenstein – to invite the engineer to see him.
After this clever ploy, Roy Batty brings up the issue of his very short life span, which is of only four years, and gets a few complicated explanations, involving the limits of biotechnology and the limits of some cells used and in the end stating that there was nothing else he could do at this stage.
Carpe diem is the message of the good doctor, who is the father of these creatures, but the reaction of one of the children is not positive, even if he kisses the creator on the mouth, only to press his head too hard and then show his cruelty and prove he is a psychopath, for a human copy, or alternatively, just a machine when he moves to the eyes of his parent.