With AI and robotics in our future, what can we learn from movies about robots?

Published on
August 18, 2017

Automation, robots, and sentience. Could a robot do your job? Your lover? Yes. (Google it yourself)

But never mind that, what’s your favourite robot movie?

Starting with Chris Airey, our resident multimedia guru, we ask some of the Rowland team what their favourite robot movie is, why, and, if there is any serious message or cautionary tale about robots in their movie of choice. Let’s go!

Chris Airey, Editor/Animator, Creative Studio

Boy meets Siri.

Writer and divorcee Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) updates his operating system to include a new AI assistant Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).

Spike Jonzes’ captivating screenplay explores the future of technology, interpersonal relationships and what it truly means to be human.

The film’s art direction and design stand alone in the sci-fi genre as presenting a future worth striving for. Void of any inexplicable complexity and dystopia that often permeates the genre of science fiction, the world of Her is soft, quiet and comforting.

The French call science fiction ‘Roman d’anticipation’ literally ‘novels of anticipation’. If there’s a future worth anticipating in science fiction it’s the one outlined in Her.


David Everton, Director, Government and Public Affairs

I like a good movie where you question your own reality and it turns out 18-years on, we have proof that we are all living inside the Matrix. Given the way things have been going around the world, perhaps:


In the movie we learn that a very Skynet-like event causes robots to decide that humans weren’t very useful, and that human’s torched the sky to limit access to the robot’s energy source – solar power. With no solar power, the robots are forced to utilise human energy to fuel their ongoing existence.

I’m sure there is something in that about renewable vs fossil fuels, but my key learning is that we need keep our landlines and a few of those old phone handsets around – in case we need to bug out real quick.


Miranda Olsen, Consultant, Organisational and Change Communication

In 2013, giant alien-like monsters, or Kaijus, have started emerging from ‘the breach’ in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The ultimate ‘anything you can do I can do better’ moment, mankind start building giant robots, or Jaegers, to fight the Kaijus mano-a-mano.

Piloting a giant Jaeger named Gipsy Danger has been a dream of mine since this movie came out in 2013. Being able to control a plasma cannon with your mind while gossiping with your best friend inside a robot? Yes please.


The first fight takes place in 2020 — given this is only three years away I have already started my training.

Rob Lovegrove, Group Manager, Digital

Elysium is a typical Hollywood offering that goes easy on the cerebral workout unless you want to pick out the social and cultural parallels.

Matt Damon plays the 22nd-century parolee hero, subjected to a life of destitution on a savaged and overpopulated Earth while the elite has already set up shop, living a life of luxury and excess on an orbiting space station (Elysium) where sicknesses and terminal illnesses can easily be cured.

Having being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, Damon’s robotically altered character sets out to save himself and his love interest’s terminally ill daughter by smuggling onto Elysium.

The film explores the social inequalities between refugees and the elite that are born into a community governed by the archetype baddie (Jodie Foster) who controls the segregation of immigrants and refugees while limiting healthcare to the privileged few… not a blonde toupe in sight I might add.