Large Image Display: AI: Artificial Intelligence: Teddy

Here we see 'Teddy', the faithful robotic companion of our robotic child protagonist throughout the film. Mum has just taken him out of his box, placed him on the floor, and turned him on. He is revealed here to be a fully articulate, yet still light, soft and furry humanoid robot, intended to double as a teddy bear.

He has limited cognitive capability, and ability to understand the world around him; he is meant to be a child's plaything, rather than an authority figure. Still, he has enough information to be able to advise a child when to be cautious, or when a situation may be more than it at first appears.

Since Teddy's on-screen d?but, and indeed for some time prior, robotics researchers have been attempting to create something that apes Teddy in both form and function. A fully articulate, talking toy with a mind of its own, able to think a bit like a child, take care of itself to an extent, and protect the child from harm all whilst being a 'best friend' is a noble goal.

Of course, it is also one we have not yet reached. Still, some of the more recent advances have been impressive in their own right.

Fujitsu's Robobear

Other robotic films since AI have also picked up on the teddy bear robot motif. One of note is Screamers, which took the robot in an altogether more sinister direction. The type 2 screamer killer robot is a little boy, who holds a teddy bear. The book screamers is based upon also lists this description. Yet, what is does not list is the way the film builds upon it. There, the lost boy robot also carries a second robot - a surveillance drone in the form of that little bear. Partially ambulatory, the bear is still cute and fuzzy, offering no real threat. However, it is also a tracking system, with some degree of ambulatory movement, as the film makes quite clear; one drags itself into the escape capsule back to Earth.

The surveillance robot in Screamers

This then exposes the teddy bear robot to both sides of the equation. The opportunity for a self-aware toy to act as a partial guide to a young child, and the potential for any 'toy' on the shelf to act as self-aware surveillance unit, whether for good or for ill.

In a way, this is an even stronger argument for the 'morality core' Teddy in AI possesses, than the arguments AI makes itself. A toy entrusted with the safety of the charge it is protecting, is a great deal less likely to also be spying for nefarious purposes, if it is gifted with n understanding of morality, by the initial programmers and set-up of the building blocks of its mind.

Further Reading

Link: AI: Artificial Intelligence

Link: AI - Artificial Intelligence: Index of Stills