Teaching Robots To Be Moral

Skull of a human size robot isolated on black
Skull of a human size robot isolated on black

“Chappie,” the highest-grossing movie in America last weekend, is, to put it mildly, not a great film; the critics have given it a twenty-nine on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is nowhere near as original as “District 9,” an earlier effort by the director, Neill Blomkamp. “Chappie” does not have the philosophical depth of “The Matrix” or the remade “Battlestar Galactica” series. Nor does it have the visual panache of “Interstellar” or “2001.” From its opening scene, the film comes across as little more than a warmed-over “RoboCop” remake, relocated to Johannesburg. There’s an evil company man, droids that menace the population, and a whole lot of blood, shooting, and broken glass. About the only thing that seems new is the intermittently adorable android protagonist, Chappie.

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