Are robots going to replace us? Will robots eventually steal our highest paid, most prized jobs? Can an artificial intelligence be creative? These are the questions raised by directors Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting (directors of The Last Hijack from Revelation 2014) in their documentary More Human Than Human, as Pallotta attempts to replace himself with a ‘camerabot’, an artificially intelligent interviewer and director. Throughout the film, the crew attempt to build a robot that can scan and recognise faces, comprehend emotions, choose camera angles and interview subjects by generating its own questions.
More Human Than Human premiered at SXSW 2018, and asks the question of who will win in the increasing power play between technology and creator. The directors draw on classic sci-fi and horror films from which our culture has taken its understanding of robots. Are robots really going to spell the end of human existence just like the movies have been telling us for almost a century? Putting the horror tropes of evil robotics and the uncanniness of AI aside, the film posits that perhaps there is a third option, where humans and machine evolve and coexist together to create something greater than the sum of their parts. The film briefly questions the tired notion that all this technology is making us distant and less sociable by asking ‘could we benefit from using robots as a companion in a lonely existence?’
More Human Than Human raises ethical questions about surveillance and data collection, and explores how robots might challenge the limits of human identity. It looks at how robots and AI are already deeply embedded in our everyday lives. The film utilises an interesting style of cinematography with a slight fisheye lens, making it feel like it were shot through the eye of a robot. The most fascinating part of the entire film looks at a real world version of Black Mirror’s ‘Be Right Back’, as the directors talk to a friend of the first deceased human to have their ‘consciousness’ uploaded to a chatbot AI.
However, the film is somewhat underwhelming in its scope and presentation and while interesting, it’s unfortunately for most audiences nothing new in terms of information and questions regarding the future of technology. But if you’d don’t know much about the current state of AI and want to learn more, it might be a worthwhile watch. More Human Than Human could all in all go a little deeper in its ethical questioning and really only scratches the surface.
I rate this film 6/10.
The Revelation Perth International Film Festival kicks off from Thursday 5th July. More Human Than Human screens with the short film Black Dog, and is screening on Saturday 7th and Friday 13th July at Luna Leederville, and Saturday 14th July at Luna on SX. Click here for more information and tickets.