“Blue Fairy make me a real boy” pleads David (Haley Joel Osment), the robot child that found a purpose, and with it the essence of life. Steven Spielberg’s motion picture Artificial Intelligence (2001) examines the spirituality behind life, and challenges what it means to be alive and “real”. Many people would argue that life is the defining trait that separates organic from inorganic matter (Judy, n.d.). AI assesses what it truly means to be alive, and whether the stuff life is made of is exclusive only to organic organisms.
The literal meaning of being alive is; organic organisms that undergo metabolic processes allowing for growth and change. On a philosophical level the meaning of life is far more convoluted. Often, to be alive is construed as; the ability to perceive sensation and stimuli, the ability to feel genuine emotions, and the ability to find a dream and follow it. For the sake of simplicity, the ideals of the quality of being alive will be referred to simply as being “real”, and will refer to all the connotations associated with the quality of having life. Through the interactions between the “Orgo” humans and “mecha” robots viewers are left questioning where the line of living and being “real” is drawn.
Living things possess the ability to perceive sensation and stimuli and react accordingly. The perception of pain is an evolutionary adaption that allows an organism to recognize damaging stimulus and escape it (Hargrove, 2010). Within the world of AI, the robots are equipped with DAS, or damage avoidance system. Martin (Jake Thomas) was David’s human brother, and during his birthday party one of his friends comments “Das ist good”, meaning that the damage avoidance system the robots come equipped with is good. When a robot is threatened with damage they react in a frenzy panicked way to escape the threat. In this incident, Martin’s friend proceeds to threaten David with a knife resulting in David grabbing Martin and pleading with Martin to save him while backing up resulting in both David and Martin ending up sinking in the swimming pool. David’s fear of damage and destruction from the perceived threat of the knife held by Martin’s friend resulted in the loss of all logic and reasoning; all David could see was the knife and danger.
Among organisms considered alive similar occurrences have been known to occur. For instance, 1908 in Boyertown PA, 170 people perished in the Opera house fire when their instincts resulted in the crowd of theater goers rushing the inward opening doors, pushing the doors closed, and preventing most people from escaping the ensuing flames (Rhoads, 2011). As David almost killed Martin in an attempt to avoid pain and damage, the theater goers at the Rhoads Opera house in 1908 killed each other in their panic to escape the burning building. Living is typically accompanied by the instinct to maintain life and functionality. Often, when the possibility of destruction arises, organisms that are “real”...