Bots on film

By Robert Hickson 28/11/2013

Its interesting monitoring the evolution of how robots are portrayed in recent films (and books). More and more are appearing, some good, some evil, some in between. The portrayals can capture our fear or our developing emotional attachments to robots, as well as the broader views of what our future may look like. As Kate Darling – a researcher who teaches a class on robot rights at MIT – noted, science fiction is often influential in shaping how society sees robots (or other new technologies).

So for you weekend viewing pleasure, here’s a non-scientific selection of short films and trailers featuring robots and cyborgs.


Bad-ass bots out to kill you

1. Keloid



2. ABE – just a robot looking for love


3. R’ha – gentle aliens being exterminated by machines


4. Elysium – armed robots and social services robots


Slacker robots

5. iDiots – are those robots us?


6. Shelved – a great short film from Auckland’s Media Design School



Emotionally intelligent, but slightly crazy robots

7. Almost human – a new tv series full of cyborgs and robo cops


Robots you can feel empathy for

8. Robot and Frank – trailer for the movie


9. Obsolete – is there life beyond the factory?


10. Changing batteries – confronting robot death


I expect we’ll see more films and books about conflicted robots as they become more accepted as part of our lives and we view them as less mechanical. When they’re portrayed as flawed characters in a soap opera then we’ll know how far own perceptions of them have changed.