Sunday, May 22, 2011

NERD ALERT. At Discover, Kyle Munkittrick tells us about the subversive message in Pixar films. They show animals and machines with human characteristics. And it's not like this is Bulgakov or Kipling we're talking about -- these are popular movies seen by impressionable children.
You can see where I’m going here. Particularly in WALL•E, Ratatouille and Up! there is no ambiguity about the reality of intelligence in the non-human characters...

Non-humans are sentient beings. That is the central difference between Pixar’s universe and our current reality.

That idea alone would suffice to show that Pixar films are all but propaganda for the concept of non-human personhood. But that is where the hidden message begins.

What makes these films so astonishing and the message so powerful is the story arc of the Human as Partner narrative...
Munkittrick concludes: "By watching our favorite films, we have been taught that being human is not the same as being a person. We have been shown that new persons and forms of personhood can come from anywhere. Through Pixar, we have opened ourselves to a better future."

Those of us who grew up with Bugs Bunny outsmarting Elmer Fudd, and whose nerd alarms were blazing from the start of this article, may take it with varying quantities of salt. But Futurepundit grasps the nettle: These Pixar films may dispose us kindly toward robots, and they can't be trusted:
At least biological life forms that are social creatures will very likely have some instinct toward reciprocity. But machine intelligences could manage to escape the ethical programming that humans will try to give them. Since machine intelligences are most likely to be the non-human intelligences that we will encounter in the next 50 years we should be worried about whether we will be able to keep them friendly toward us.
I hope the GOP is paying attention, because this suggests a new opening for Republican Presidential candidates: Instead of yapping about the threat represented by Muslims, unions, and homosexuals, they should ask in tones of thunder what Obama is doing to protect America from the coming robot menace.

They can also take a tip from Ole Perfesser Reynolds, who comments on Pixar's will-sapping pro-robot propaganda:
Movies are poor sources of moral guidance. Just look at the people who make them.
I expect he'll change his tune once his consciousness is uploaded.

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