Synopsis: In the not-so-far future the polar ice caps have melted and the resulting rise of ocean waters has drowned all the coastal cities of the world. Withdrawn to the interior of the continents, the human race keeps advancing, reaching to the point of creating realistic robots-called mechas-to serve them.
An ambitious Professor succeeds in building David, an artificial kid, the first of its kind programmed to provide endless love for its adopter. David is adopted by Monica as a substitute for her real son, but an unfortunate sequence of events leads Monica to abandon David. Believing that Monica will love him only if he becomes a real boy, David sets off to find the Blue Fairy (from the fairy tale Pinocchio), whom he earnestly believes is the only one with the power to grant him his wish.
Explanation: Artificial Intelligence is very similar to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein in that the underlying themes, questions asked, and moral issues raised are the same.
The main idea being appropriated is that of creating life, although not life’ in its usual context referring to living organisms. The life’ created (or rather built) in AI is in fact a mere imitation of life, a mechanical substitute human boyartificial intelligence. In AI, the creation is David, and he bears immediate similarities to the Frankenstein monster. In the book, the monster was to be Frankenstein’s perfect’ human, a soul who knew nothing but love. Ironically, David was programmed to provide unconditional love and also served the purpose of being the perfect replacement of a human’ boy.
The desire to aid mankind through scientific and technological advancement is shared by both creators in their respective texts. In the film however, the Frankenstein equivalent is indirectly achieved by another character after David’s initial creation. The Frankenstein role is in fact fulfilled by Monica, David’s adopter (mother’), who activates David by imprinting’ him to her. Although for different reasons, both parents’ (mother/father figures) hastily rush the activation’ process without closely assessing the risks and responsibilities of their doings or even realizing the wishes of their creations. Both creators end up abandoning their creations, leaving them alone, friendless in societies where they are both hunted.
A woman talking to the Professor in the first scene of the film asks directly: “if a robot child loves his mother, is she expected to love him back?”-“Can a robot be loved?” The film maintains the same stance as Mary Shelley’s book by arguing that society is in fact to blame for the mistreatment of David. When the monster is sighted by the public in the book, the people are terrified by his appearance and unite to try and kill him; hence the monster has to hide in the forest where no one would see him.
The film’s equivalent of this is the Flesh Fairs’ where mechas are taken and horrifically terminated, live in front of a huge audience. Both texts try to explain that it is not as simple as society’s intolerance of imitations or something, which is not real. Both texts imply that it is in fact the fear of the unknown, fear of losing superiority, which provoke these blind, cold-hearted actions.
Reality is an issue deeply explored by both texts and both texts ask the same question. What constitutes reality? The Frankenstein creature has the same human capabilities to learn, think and love, what separates him from humanity besides his appearance? (Keeping in mind he was created from human flesh). And similarly, if there is a mechanical life form that can think, reason, love, and dream, then what separates it from humanity besides flesh and blood?
Both creations knew nothing but love and searched in vain for someone to love them back. For the monster it was a female companion, as for David, he sought the love of his mother’ Monica. The film AI completely agrees with Mary Shelley’s concept of which love can be corrupted and therefore cannot exist without hate. “If David was programmed to love, why not assume that he knows how to hate”. David, furious at the discovery that he is not unique, destroys a fellow mecha. This mirrors the murders of two innocent humans by the Frankenstein monster who was seeking vengeance upon his creator.