You know you live in a crazy age when blockbuster movies look like they might come true. Next month marks the debut of the scifi film Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis and adapted from Robert Vendetti’s comic series of the same name. The movie follows a police officer who lives in a future where everyone (including him) is a remote controlled android called a surrogate. You can feel everything that this robot does, but without any worries about danger. Pretty far-fetched, right?
Well, a new micro-documentary on Wired.com is questioning just how much fiction there is in this science. With commentary from the director and some key experts in the field, The Science-Fact Behind Surrogates is out to show that the technology we have today is laying the foundation for the reality of the film. Watch the micro-documentary video after the break.
Surrogates is set in the year 2054, when everyone stays at home and sends beautiful android versions of themselves out into the world. It’s the ultimate form of telepresence, and futurist Dr. James Canton believes it could happen in the next decade or so. Canton isn’t the only expert weighing in during the documentary. Anybots, which the hub covered previously, make robots that operate through telepresence and demonstrate that humans can already interact through their artificial minions.
So we have remote controlled robots, but what about the rest of the technology promised in Surrogates? Singularity Hub has already told you about haptics, feeling what your robot feels, and Braingate, the technology of reading your mind in order to control computers and machines. This stuff is here today. Super good looking and super strong robots obeying our every command? Well, Hanson robotics and Cyberdyne technologies have you covered there as well. We’re so close people, so close.
Question is, do we want to be? The Surrogates comics series isn’t a wholesale endorsement of the telepresence lifestyle. Far from it. Vendetti wrote Surrogates after reading about relationships that failed when someone became obsessed with online gaming and social networking. In the series, the writer lampoons the American obsession with idealized looks, surrogates come with mouth-watering physiques, and our willingness to trade safety with freedom. Or rather, our belief that safety is freedom. The whole comic (and movie, I presume) revolves around a plot by a terrorist to destroy all surrogates everywhere. It’s a technophobe versus technophile conflict that futurists have been worried about for a while. It got brought up at the debut of the Transcendent Man documentary, and it reflects the real doubt some have about whether or not humans are losing their humanity in the technological ether.
Forget the heavy stuff for a while, though, and just enjoy the smash-’em bash-’em romp that I’m sure Surrogates will be. The trailer looks fun and the movie website even has a place where you can design your own virtual stand-in. Heck, we can start taking bets on whether or not Surrogates or AVATAR will be the biggest blockbuster starring remote controlled androids this year. The future may hold impressive decisions about the nature of human interaction but for now the biggest choice you have to make is if you want to go out and see the movie. I might just send someone in my stead.