Home > Clement's Game > Science Fiction Round 45: Chappie

Science Fiction Round 45: Chappie


Where to even begin with this film?

I really wanted to like it, but… it just wasn’t happening.

As ever, spoilers.

The robot in the picture does, in fact, show up in the movie.

The robot in the picture does, in fact, show up in the movie.  But I’m not sure what makes him humanity’s last hope.

What The Heck Happened to Johannesburg??

Whoa.  One of the prerequisites for this film happening is that crime be so bad that Johanneburg is essentially a war zone.

At least in the real world, it is possible to own personal firearms in South Africa, although it does require a license.  But roving gangs of people stealing stuff becoming enough of a problem for the government to authorize the use of robots and mecha against civilians?  What the heck?  Since when did that even make sense?

And since when can an arms supplier fly an independent mecha against its own employee in an attempt to cover stuff up without needing to get any kind of clearance from, say, local flight control?  Admittedly, there were riots because the police bots had shut down, but… oy.  This whole violent, but near-future, premise, was extremely difficult for me to buy.

I mean, that almost sounds like certain other countries that militarize their police forces sometimes… um, yeah, actually, that part, maybe not quite so far-fetched… ahem.

Workplace Harassment

What Moore does to Deon — threatening him with an “unloaded” firearm, in front of coworkers – should get him fired faster than you can say, “I’m calling security.”  I mean, it’s not just that he’s threatening a co-worker in an extremely dangerous fashion, or entirely disregarding firearms safety rules.  He’s the creator of one of the company’s least-successful products, threatening the brains behind the police bots that made the company so successful.

Come on, guys, this is a no-brainer, and you’ve got loads of heavily arms security dudes.  Fire the schmuck already.

But that would have prevented most of the plot, so, I guess that sensible measure couldn’t be taken.  Sigh.

Brain Upload Fail

There are four things about this that bother me.

First, the obvious.  The uploading that happens is basically impossible (at least as applied to humans).  You can’t get all the information about how all of somebody’s neurons are firing from an electrode-covered hat.  The measurements you can make are too ambiguous for that.

Second, a device for reading human brains won’t work on a computer brain.  The systems are completely different!  Consider how difficult it is to make Apple and Microsoft products work with each other.  Now make it ten bazillion times harder.  Besides which, if you want to move an AI between systems, all you have to do is, well, copy it via typical computer commands.  The idea of consciousness being an emergent property is fine, but copying the underlying process from which it emerges will copy the emergent properties, too.

Third, let’s discuss Unix commands.

A couple of basic commands are “cp” and “rm”. If you cp – copy – a file, that copies it (obviously), and rm deletes (or removes) a file.  The command “mv” is essentially a shortcut combination of those two files – a file is copied to a new place, and then the original is removed.

Why can’t they do that with Chappie’s download?

Especially since — and this is my final complaint — this is exactly what Chappie did with Yolandi.  Chappie made a back-up copy, and, at the end of the film after she’s killed, uploads her into a robot.

I mean, come on, that copy-and-paste operation could have done so much if you’d used it earlier.

You could fit a MOOSE into that plot hole.

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