There have been countless movies over the years that center around our increasing reliance on mechanical help and/or artificial intelligence. In most cases, it never ends well as greed enters into the picture causing such a reliance to short circuit. At the time, most of these were considered fantasy, not reality.
With the new Channel 4/AMC series Humans and, as was the case with the original Swedish version, Real Humans, it can get downright creepy, especially when you’re talking about the morphing of science-fiction and every day domestic life. Just how close are we to slowly tipping the scales towards reality and leaving fantasy behind? Technological advancement can be a blessing and a curse. Just ask any smartphone owner who finds themselves now ‘connected’ 24/7.
Noted theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking weighed in on the issue in a recent interview with the BBC. “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” said Hawking. “One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand.”
Set in the ‘alternative present’ (whatever that is), Humans centers around the early stages of what Hawking is alluding to. What could possibly happen when artificial intelligence runs amok? Not going to happen, according to Persona Synthetics, as you will be able to “…experience the new generation Synthetic Human from Persona Synthetics. It’s not just an appliance but a deeply personal lifestyle choice. Your Synth is the help you’ve always wanted.” Even with a fully-customizable personality, 4CX-CNS Neural Processor and an all-day battery, there is the obligatory fine print disclaimer that may just prove Mr. Hawking correct. Make sure your new ‘synth’ has had the latest firmware update before leaving the store. And, don’t even think about performing a factory-reset. Leave that to the professionals.
Premiering on Channel 4 this past Sunday and running for 8 weeks, Humans stars Katherine Parkinson (Doc Martin, The Old Guys, Whites), Gemma Chan, Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Tom Goodman-Hill (Mr. Selfridge). “What you’re dealing with here is how direct a threat or benefit to humanity artificial intelligence is,” former Merlin star Colin Morgan said recently on the set of Humans. “How would you feel if a synth human being was in your house and doing the things that you do, but better? And everyone acknowledged that they’re better than you at doing it.”
The promo campaign for Humans was genius and as eerily realistic as the series, complete with the ‘building’ of a store for Persona Synthetics on Regent Street in London.
Real Humans – meet the HUBOTS
In the Swedish television series original, Real Human, human robots, or HUBOTS, are completely integrated in population. While Hubots are designed to be docile and obedient and are programmed with a set of rules called “Asimov” protocols that prevent them harming humans, some have been modified beyond the legal protocols to make them ‘better’.
Such practices are illegal in Sweden and those who modify the programming of the hubots are known as “home-brewers”. Some hubots have started to develop feelings, desires and their own goals as their programming has allowed them to develop free will and independence from humans. Written by Lars Lundström, Real Human asks questions on the rights and ethics of robots in society that both accepts them and exploits them.
Humans premieres Sunday, June 28 at 9:00p ET / 8:00p CT on AMC and continues Sundays at 9:00p on Channel 4.