I went last night to see “Chappie” – a story about a robot that receives a conscience and then develops into a full-fledged person. This is me grossly over-summarizing it.
It all starts when the Johannesburg (South Africa) Police needs to increase their tactics / numbers to fight crime. They start using droids to do all the dirty work (very much like they do in Elysium and I am Robot) and it seems to work as the crime rate goes down.
The research scientist who invented the droids is highly appreciated and recognized, much to the envy of his colleague (Hugh Jackman with a mullet) who has a similar robot designed – but who could never pitch it successfully to the police as the smaller droids were better suited.
I mean, look at it – it is massive, bulky, moves slowly and has bigger guns than what you need to apprehend a thief or stop a domestic abuse situation. The Police was right in not purchasing “The Brick”. I was wondering throughout the movie if the events would have unfolded differently if they pitched this robot to the army rather than the police? I could see it used in warfare.
All the slim droids were perfectly safe against hacking and they had a master security key – heavily guarded – which allowed system updates to be done. I will have to take a point off the movie rating as the security on the key – while advertised to be heavy – allowed an employee to steal it and not bring it back for 2 days… and also the usage password was known to other people and not changed regularly … and when Chappie uses it at the end, it doesn’t even ask for a password!
Talking about security – there seem to be a few security cameras outside the buildings but not inside? How could an employee take off with a robot and the guards not stop him??
Sorry – this is my security expert self talking… PS: from a software interface, instead of doing some futuristic stuff, they used PASCAL! that’s an MS-DOS looking command line software tool. I mean it’s 2015! Pascal hasn’t been used since the 80’s! I got a bit disappointed when I saw how the bad guy uploaded a virus and sent it to all the droids to deactivate them and push his product forward (again, without any proper testing, just pushing it into an environment with live civilians … and without anyone supervising its actions).
The education of Chappie
So this guy develops a perfect AI, a system able to learn by itself and create (paint, create music, have the capacity of independent thought, of self).
During the night when he wanted to use an old disassembled robot to test his theory on, he gets robbed / taken hostage by some thieves who ask him for a remote to turn off droids so that they can rob a bank. They threaten to kill him until he suggests he can build them a robot that can do what they want. So he goes off and builds the broken droid and adds his new code in. And what we have is a blank piece of “brain” – a baby robot who needs to learn the ways of the world.
The people trying to “educate” him are his maker – the scientist who created him – who is trying to instill the rights and wrongs of things, a bit of a moral conscience, shows him how to paint, brings him “Baaa Baaa Black Sheep” to read and enjoy. Chappie is like a kid, so happy, so eager to learn.
I’ll have to warn you – there is a part of the movie that made me fill up with outrage and really hate his new dad.
In his hurry to have Chappy “grow up” to be a real killing machine that they can use during a robbery, he wants to show him the real world so he takes him for a drive. He abandons him in a tough area and they drive off, leaving this poor little dude to fend for himself. Not being told anything about what’s up there, not knowing that people can be mean, Chappie is brutally beaten while pleading for mercy and asking them to stop hurting him. My heart went up to him. The assholes!
To his honor, his fake dad does take a stance and shows him the ropes, how to move, how to steal other people’s cars, how to wear bling and talk ghetto. When his dad helped him escape at the end – he got his cookie points back.
The real person who seems to care about him beyond a revolutionary machine and the means to rob a bank is his new “mother”, a quirky Northern Europe-born (Sweden I think) with a unique sense of style. Very much neon-punk. She loves him and she looks out for him and her boyfriend. She is the one telling him off for taking Chappie out too soon and for making him do bad things. She is the one trying to be the role model.
Her name is Yolandi, an South-african rapper from the band “Die Antwoord”. Her styling in the film is a dizzying range of pop cultural references including Tank Girl, kawaii, industrial punk, Lol from Shane Meadows’ This Is England and Atari Teenage Riot, all topped off with a signature platinum-blonde undercut fringe. Crucially, she wears a lot of pink.
He’s not as bad as the dad, he is trying to teach him how to kill saying that he can put a person to sleep by using a knife, And they will go into a very nice dream and wake up in a better place. I was surprised to see him actually do it during the heist – and he went and touched the guy’s blood and I believe he realized then that he was killing them, but he kept quiet.
Chappie is thoroughly misguided when he is being brought up and it got me thinking – there are no bad people really – they just learn what they saw from their parents, they do what they get thought, but if you have a blank slate, it’s neither good nor bad. It’s what you tell it to be.