Apologies for the delay…

Time has caught up with me considerably, and the deadline is a mere 11 days away. Thankfully, my ideas are very clear in my head – but that’s where they are currently languishing and really need committing to paper! So let’s summarise the story so far:

1: Ideas.

I had two ideas to start with, one concerning the future of videogames and the second concerning the future of law enforcement via a team robotic guards.

Summary of Videogame idea:

Videogames have come an awful long way since the days of pong, and are rivalling cinema in terms of drama, characters and plot – but to what extent can they be considered on the same level of artistry as film? Most seem to argue that the videogame is way off point in rivalling the cinema experience. I wanted to investigate this and find out what is stopping video gaming from being considered art.

In my opinion, the problem lies in characters and voice acting. Also, plots tend to be goal driven, rather than emotion driven. This might be a terribly obvious point to make, these are interactive experiences after all, but why shouldn’t there be games that are driven by our relation with NPC characters, and how we feel about them? Why can’t the characters in games be more intelligent, for example, to the point where they have their own goals in the virtual game world?

Result:

I pretty much abandoned the idea as it wasn’t really going to fit with the brief in terms of producing a product to present and pitch. There’s a lot of theory here, rather technology based research. However, all was not lost, as this idea ties in heavily with the subject of my forthcoming dissertation regarding the evolving nature of the videogame.

Summary of Robocop idea:

This was my dangerous and silly idea. This became a far less silly idea upon looking into the subject of robots in the military and surveillance operations. Robot development has reached the point where we have the sci-fi type humanoid synthetic being design. Coupled with the applications current robots have been used for, the idea of a team of robot sentries is far from ridiculous. Robots already exist that patrol shopping malls in Japan that can identify anything suspicious and act accordingly – although they are not fully autonomous, and relay the information back to a regular security force. I am more interested in creating autonomous humanoid robots that have multiple abilities, and are better equipped than humans to deal with multiple types of threats to domestic society such as crime, terror attacks and are able to take the place of the police and fire services we currently have in place.

Result:

Very determined to make the best of such a fanciful idea – I focused my research on current robots and have found their applications to be very diverse. As previously mentioned, sentry-bots exist. Their abilities include ID scanning, threat identification, and have a limited ability to tackle fires. The majority of robotic applications are focused on helping humans, be it to keep them safe at the mall, or the rescue them from a vehicle trapped in a snowdrift. Military robots are focused on reconnaissance and entering dangerous territories that humans cannot enter. This starting point of research gave me enough to go on and decide to proceed in producing a robot product of my own.

Concept – what am I making?

The idea is based in science fiction – there is getting away from that. I’m more than happy to embrace how fanciful this idea is, but drag it into the realms of reality by way of the presentation. What I’m torn between is:

…A potentially rather dry product website which shows a summary of the research I’ve done into the technology of the robots and some designs of what they would look like, a list of their proposed applications and abilities all drawn together in a pretty design, and present it on the projector, clicking through the links and acting as a representative from the company that intends to produce these machines. I would also have to field questions about the controversial nature of introducing autonomous beings in the place of our regular emergency services or make an FAQ page for the site that covered all concerns.

OR:

…An animated film that shows the aftermath of such a deployment of a robot police force and its effects on society. This conjures up a lot of fun ideas for me in terms of embracing the sci-fi ethic that I began with. There are a wealth of stories out there to inform the story and aesthetics. The worry is that the story will be altogether too obvious, and end the tedious cliché of robots rising up against their human masters.

Thankfully, I’ve been sitting on a sci-fi story idea for quite some time, and may be able to make the story more compelling.

OR:

…a bit of both? It’s a tall order, but it would certainly satisfy all aspects of the brief while allowing me to have some fun with subject matter. We’ll have to see what time allows.

My Sci-Fi story.

My research has led me to find that most current robots are remotely controlled by humans. I wondered if this would be the key to getting people to agree to a robot police force. Science fiction generally illustrates that robots with their own brains will eventually evolve far beyond our own understanding, and rise up against us – so maybe it would be better, in terms of people being able to trust the machines, for the robot police force to be controlled by humans, or a singular human. That way, it’s still sort of the same as using the phone to speak to police force when you need help. The robot acts a transceiver to transmit the problem to a human, who then commands the robot/s to act accordingly.

So the story goes something like this:

Dr. Genus, prodigious thinker, robotic engineer and scientist unveils his plan for a robotic police force. Five robots, with identical abilities, which he (or the user) can control via a brain implant. He demonstrates the robots abilities and wins the trust and consent of the government to implement the force with Genus as the controller during the first year.

Genus finds that the level of concentration required controlling the machines and the massive level of information being fed into his mind is becoming too much for his body to take. He begins to use nanomachines to assist his body and help repair him, without the need for food, sunlight or other human necessities. Something else Genus had not prepared for was the extent of horror that the crimes he was helping to combat would affect him emotionally. Again, he used various treatments to numb his emotional responses in order to keep his police force operation to maximum efficiency.

Genus is becoming less and less human, and when the evaluation by government comes around, he is quickly removed from his position as overseer and his robots put out of commission.

Genus however, is opposed to the government’s position and declares that he has made the city a far better place to be. As far as he is concerned, the city belongs to him. The government declare him dangerous, and move to have him incarcerated.

Genus, in his mutated state retreats to his now shut down base of operations, where he regains control of the police robots. In his furious and confused state, he uses the robots to attack the government that have forced him into hiding.

His tactical precision and knowledge of the city allow him to easily crush his opponents, leaving him as the sole ruler of the people he swore to protect. The people of city rally against this and protest – and are destroyed due to Genus’ new take on the law being –‘all who oppose me are unlawful.’

Genus has become a monstrous mother figure, coddling the remaining people of the city with one hand, while crushing any that display signs of resistance with the other.

By this point, the nanomachines in Genus’ body have given him the ability to merge with objects on a molecular level. He realises that he can be everywhere at once, if he runs his entire body and consciousness through the security system of the city. He would become a vast, living city, able to control absolutely everything within it.

The resulting trauma on his mind that this action instigates destroys his mind to the point where he no longer has a single identity. The city becomes a psychic playground. The remaining humans and robots, under the control of the nanomachines play out scenes from Genus’ scattered memories. The city becomes a grotesque, nightmarish puppet theatre, detailing Genus’ sad tale.

The city becomes a living storybook of man versus man, by way of machine.

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~ by traumatron on November 6, 2007.

2 Responses to “Apologies for the delay…”

  1. You talk about characters in videogames and some ideas of how these could change, I think this could be an excellent starting point for your dissertation. In general you seem to be interested in films, videogames and science fiction, so the obvious choice for you would be a topic that investigates all of these areas.
    Perhaps something about how we relate to charactes in films emotionally compared to carecters in videogames and how the interactive aspect affects this.

  2. If your interested in looking at human relationships with robots and robotic guards, you should have a look at this article:

    ‘Nurse Bot uses AIML’ on the home page of
    http://www.alice.org

    It is about a robot that is being trusted with health care. I know it’s not the same as a guard, but it does sort of safe guard the health of those it works for.

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