In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
Chappie is set in Johannesburg, South Africa in the near future. A robotics company called Tetravaal has developed police robots called Scouts that have been used to replace much of the human police force in Johannesburg. The Scouts are human-sized, carry guns, and are completely automated and programmed with artificial intelligence, primarily developed by a Tetravaal employee named Deon Wilson. Deon is currently working on developing artificial intelligence software for the Scouts to give them the potential to learn like humans do. Another Tetravaal employee, Vincent Moore, is developing a robot called The Moose, which is a large bipedal robot capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and equipped with cluster missiles, machine guns, and manipulators. The Moose has no artificial intelligence, but is instead controlled by a neural helmet worn by an operator. Vincent Moore greatly dislikes the Scouts project and it’s diminishing effect on the Moose project.
The director and co-writer of Chappie Neill Blomkamp expressed a variety of reasons for making the movie in various interviews.
One of the topics Blomkamp wanted to explore in Chappie was the effect of a negative or hostile environment on innocent beings. Blomkamp was also the writer and director of Elysium, another film with artificially intelligent robots. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said that part of his motivation for making Chappie was inspired by the question “What if this band were to raise one of Elysium's artificially intelligent robots, but with a clean slate? And they tried to make it do all the illicit s*** they do?” . Blomkamp also indicated in another interview that the concept of Chappie as an innocent being born into an environment of hostility is very similar to his view of humanity, noting that “Because Chappie is, in a nutshell, how I view the world in the most distinct way and it's that somehow through some weird magical anomaly, consciousness has arrived—and we are conscious—and that that blank slate and that pure innocent consciousness is birthed into an environment of total hostility and chaos and the only thing looking out for it is its parental figures for the duration of time that is required.” . It is clear based on these quotes that Chappie is used to express this worldview of Blomkamp’s. The director also draws parallels between the hostile environment that Chappie is exposed to and its effects on him to the use of drones weapons in the Middle East and the potential effects on people there, noting when asked if the war aspects in Chappie where a deliberate comment on the use of drone technology, “So, you know, whether the U.S. should be in the Middle East or not or what the reasons were that got the U.S. there, you now have drone operators detached from the munitions and from the vehicle that's dropping them.... So, it's like do you want to live in a world where that's happening. You also don't want to live in a world where ISIS exists, you know. But, all of those things are at play and they all tie into this hostile environment this innocent thing is born into.” . This statement shows that Chappie was made, in part, to express Blomkamp’s view that the negative environment introduced by drone use in the Middle East may negatively affect people in the same way being ‘born’ into a crime ridden environment affected Chappie.
In several interviews, Blomkamp also noted that creating Chappie was partially a discussion on consciousness and the difference between humans and advanced AI. Before making the movie, he said that he wanted to explore the question “If something is as smart as you, do you treat it differently if it isn’t a human?” . He noted after finishing the movie that he related with the character a lot more than expected . His portrayal of this artificial intelligence as a child-like being was evident and posed the question of what to do with a sentient robot to viewers of the movie. Various plot lines in the movie also seemed to suggest that he viewed sentient robots like Chappie very similar to humans. At one point in the movie, Chappie is seen petting a dog before making his way back to the gang’s compound. Such an action has no obvious utility and seems like a very human action to take. Chappie also calls Ninja and Yolandi “daddy” and “mommy” respectively, clearly noting a human-like relationship between Chappie and the two characters who raise him. Blomkamp’s most distinct statement suggesting equivalent treatment for sentient AI and humans is the transference of Deon and Yolandi’s consciousnesses to robots at the end of the movie. This suggests that Deon and Yolandi should be treated no differently as robots than they were as humans, and by extension, that sentient robots should be treated as humans, as they can have the same thoughts and feelings even in a robotic body. Blomkamp also simply wanted to provide humans an opportunity to talk about their own consciousness, saying in an interview with The Telegraph, “I also wanted to make a film that was about consciousness more than it was about Artificial Intelligence, and Artificial Intelligence lets you talk about consciousness in a way that is interesting and sort of digestible for audiences.” .
Blomkamp also uses Chappie to discuss ethical behavior of sentient AI as well as portrayal and perception. He stated in the interview with the Telegraph, “If you really get into it, scientists don't really know exactly where morality and ethics come from in humans. Whether it's a learned behaviour, or a genetically intrinsic behaviour … and if it is intrinsic, how do you code it? How do you tell an organism to be ethical? Of course, that goes both ways. If an entity isn’t biologically being ‘told’ to act a certain way, that means that it also isn’t feeling aggression, and negative emotions like that. A lot of people today are saying artificial intelligence will wipe us out, but I don't necessarily think that's true.” This suggests that the biological influences of humans could potentially make more likely to act unethically than a robot or AI without such influences. Blomkamp also said “But what I really like about Chappie is that it’s doing the opposite of what Hollywood films normally do. The Hollywood thing is that robots always blow us up... So I thought: ‘Nah, I'll just go the other way.’” . This demonstrates that he used Chappie in part to dispel the public perception that robots will always ultimately be used for destructive and negative purposes by showing that sentient robots could be capable of caring about humans and trying to do what’s right.
The Scout robots are a perfect example of a general purpose humanoid robot. In the current world, this is an emergency technology - several different humanoid robots exist, but none have quite reached the level of flexibility needed to serve for general purposes. The best example of this is the Boston Dynamics Atlas. The newest version of the Atlas is closer to human proportions than the original, and capable of faster and more stable walking.
NASA is also working on humanoid robots, intended to take the place of humans on dangerous missions. This robot, the Valkyrie, was initially designed for disaster-relief efforts, like the Atlas .
Though neither of these robots match the flexibility and human-like motion of Deon's Scouts, robotic technology is constantly improving, and it seems inevitable that eventually robots will match the Scouts in capability.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “NASA gives MIT a humanoid robot to develop software for future space missions (w/ Video),” NASA gives MIT a humanoid robot to develop software for future space missions (w/ Video), 18-Nov-2015. [Online]. Available at: http://phys.org/news/2015-11-nasa-mit-humanoid-robot-software.html. [Accessed: 20-Apr-2016].
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The Moose uses let-based Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) to quickly move around the city. This is an existing technology, that’s currently used in both propellor and jet-based aircraft. Some examples of this are the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, the Hawker Harrier, and the Lockheed Martin F35. However, there are no designs as compact as the jet-based vtol used in the MOOSE.
Additionally, there are current efforts to improve this technology. DARPA is has just recently awarded the Phase 2 Contract of the VTOL X-Plan Program, intended to build a VTOL craft capable of more efficient vertical flight and faster horizontal flight with less drag than current craft are capable of .
1. email@example.com, “DARPA Announces VTOL X-Plane Phase 2 Design,”Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, 03-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available at: http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-03-03. [Accessed: 16-Apr-2016].
Programming has existed since World War II, where Tommy Flowers developed the Colossus to aid the British in their code breaking efforts. Compilers came into existence not much later in 1952, as programs were becoming more complex and writing the entirety of underlying code was becoming more and more difficult. The first complete compiler was the FORTRAN compiler in 1957.
However, the movie represented compilation and programming unrealistically. In one of his video logs, Deon says “I have several terabytes of compiling and coding to do”. This is absolutely unrealistic. The codebase used for one of our group member’s MQP is around 600MB, consists of over 3.5 million lines of code and documentation, and takes approximately 30 minutes to compile. Even one terabyte of code would be nearly 6 trillion lines, and likely take over 800 hours to compile.
Artificial Intelligence has been rapidly advancing in the past few years, both before and after Chappie was released. When IBM’s Watson played Jeopardy against human opponents, the AI won by a large margin . And earlier this year, Google’s AlphaGo AI won four out of five matches against Lee Sedol, the top Go player in the world .
However, despite these recent advances, artificial intelligence is a long way away from the general purpose conscious AI exhibited by Chappie. Watson and AlphaGo are both task-specific AI’s, and their algorithms and training make them very good at the task they are designed for. But they are useless at anything else. Additionally, they both require large computing clusters to both train and and run the intelligences. They would not be able to run on-robot like Chappie can.
1. BBC Technology, “IBM's Watson supercomputer crowned Jeopardy king,” BBC News, 17-Feb-2011. [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-12491688. [Accessed: 17-Apr-2016].
2. BBC Technology, “Artificial intelligence: Go master Lee Se-dol wins against AlphaGo program,” BBC News, 13-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35797102. [Accessed: 17-Apr-2016].
Networking plays a relatively small role in Chappie. It is used mainly as a medium of communication for the Scout's updates and directives. In the scope of this movie, we see some malicious updates get sent to the robots, but by an authorized party, and for all intents and purposes the network appears to be secure. The usage of networks was not a large plot point for Chappie, so there is not much to discuss. The most interesting point regarding networks was Chappie's ability to view and download was appeared to be effectively the entire Internet. While this makes a very large amount of data available to him, it is uninteresting because it uses technologies that already exist and presumably the hardware used in the Scouts is capable of such an operation.
Network security has a minor, but not trivial, role in Chappie. We see them use computer networks in many situations, but in each the systems are well-secured and only authorized personnel access them (though admittedly no one else ever tries). The only issue with their network-usage portrayal is the ability to update the firmware on the robots remotely without prior approval, requiring merely a piece of physical hardware to be present. This seems reasonable on the surface, because otherwise it would require an employee visiting each robot physically to update the firmware and also take the single access token abroad, exposing it to external theft. Because of this complexity, the problem is somewhat difficult to solve, as at some point an administrator must be picked to oversee the firmware upgrades, and then you must completely trust that person. Requiring a dual-administrator approval may mitigate this issue, but typically software has an override, especially if in physical proximity to the hardware. Therefore, this may simply make authorized access that much harder without increasing the difficulty for those who are already circumventing the rules. Since we have established that circumventing the rules would be possible given physical proximity, the ability to remotely update the firmware on the robots is something that is more of a necessity rather than a convenience, especially if a large number of robots are deployed world-wide. Essentially, what is needed to prevent this situation is for the engineers to have oversight and not unilateral control of the firmware. For instance, Vincent Moore could have loaded the firmware onto the MOOSE anytime he felt like it, but simply didn't for fear of administrative reprisal. But if for whatever reason he chose to act against the Tetravaal administration, he could've destroyed a huge amount of the facilities and surrounding area before anyone would have had time to respond and stop him. Another major security flaw is Vincent's ability to access anything regarding the scouts at all. Though likely Moore would have needed information about the Scout program, he should not have had administrative access, or any level of access, to the Scouts or any part of the programming. This is a severe breach in the division of power and he should not have had the ability to do what he did.
A point of security that is highly questionable is the use of a single unauthenticated guard key. There are no preventative measures besides the physical security around the key, which is shown to be circumventable by an insider without any supervision. While having a single access token allowing updates of the robots is in principle a good idea, without the administration being able to track and hold accountable its use, the entire design choice of having a singular point of access is moot. Additionally, the key should not be allowed to be taken off the Tetravaal campus without some sort of tracking measure or other security design, such as a forced auto-deactivation after some period. Otherwise, as we saw, the key can be used to unilaterally program the entire set of robots without any repercussions or alerts to any other staff members. Of course, the implementation of these measures would essentially avert the entire plot of Chappie.
Next, the physical security of the development and manufacturing facilities is entirely inappropriate for the importance and volatility of the materials housed there. To start off, Deon was able to scavenge robot Scout parts from their warehouse numerous times without any sort of check-in, signature, or other administrative measure. The MOOSE has live ordinance on it, including high-yield missiles, and is just sitting in some maintenance bay, no real warning signs or security clearances seemingly necessary. Or protective shielding, of any kind. The ammunition for these robots is merely laying around the same hangar as the robots themselves, and also do not appear to have much regulation, if any, when it comes to the human engineers. While the Scouts are relatively well-administered, they were all centered in this one facility which apparently is only secured by an ID card and not even around-the-clock surveillance (as no one saw Vincent reprogram EVERY. SINGLE. SCOUT.) When the Scouts were deactivated, they were just casually left around the city, for bystanders to attempt to reprogram or retrieve data from them. Additionally, at the close of the movie the program was shut down, yet Deon was still able to create a new robot clone. Admittedly, they hadn't had much time to scuttle the facility, but you would think Tetravaal would disable the remote connection so no one could do what they did.
The movie, CHAPPiE, introduces robotic police forces. Policing is a common technique used by a governments and nations for maintaining peace. In the movie, the government’s role in controlling and running the “Scouts” program was not clear. If the government uses robot technologies manufactured by weapon and defense organization, Tetravaal, it should take full control and responsibility for these robots. However, the movie never showed any government interaction, the government’s point of view, or their response to events in CHAPPiE. In reality, possessing such a destructive technology would likely require better measures of management, privacy, and security from the government. Surprisingly, local news did a report identifying Deon Wilson as the developer of artificial intelligence software that operates in robot police. With this information the criminal gang was able to identify Deon and kidnap him for their own use. Since Deon is the lead developer for all “Scouts”, which is likely not favored by criminals in Johannesburg, either the government or Tetravaal should provide necessary protection, as he knows a lot about the operation and weaknesses of the robotic police force that many would probably like to destroy or exploit. His information was not kept private, enabling the gang to kidnap him. Additionally, Deon’s actions indicated that he was acting selfishly, and not in the interest of the government or his company, and more government oversight of the Scouts program could’ve prevented his actions, or at least made them more difficult. This plot shows a large amount of risk and is very far from the reality of the typical role of government and its role in privacy and security.
“Scouts”, similar to traditional police, have the capability to observe their surroundings and record both private and public data from outside world. However, unlike most data observed by traditional human police, this data can be stored on servers and downloaded or copied. In most situations, observations made by human police will not be recorded or disclosed. In the case of the “Scouts”, recorded data can be accessed without justification by employees dealing with the Scouts program or hacked, potentially resulting in large privacy breaches. In addition, the potential for sensor output, such as cameras or other information, to be accessed remotely, means that the Scouts could potentially be used to spy or eavesdrop on people. None of this was addressed and explained in the movie. Strict oversight and access protocols, in addition to heavy security measures, would be needed for the Scouts program to operate without posing large risks to privacy of citizens. The actual measures taken were not clear in the movie.
Using the artificial intelligence developed and installed in Chappie, the movie introduces another interesting point. Would it be ethically and morally right if the government could track and disable any individual at any point in time? Does this differ for robots? Does this differ if the robots have human-like senses, perceptions and thinking ability? The privacy rights for such beings are not clear here. Introducing human-like and artificially designed mind can lead also to human-like rights. In the movie, CHAPPiE was one of a kind and society didn’t have enough time to rise this topic for a discussion. However, should a similar scenario happen in real-life, this issue would have to be addressed by the government.
In addition, there was another device that could be used to invade privacy of users or others. The helmet that used to control the Moose, another defensive technology made by Tetravaal, is designed in the way that it can read individual’s mind and translate thoughts into robot’s actions. Later in the movie, CHAPPiE was able to modify this technology so it could make a digital representation of human mind. Deon used it to save CHAPPiE and CHAPPiE used it to transfer Deon and Yolandi's minds into Scout robots. Yolandi’s consciousness was also stored on a flash drive. Both the data transfer and data storage expose human privacy at greater scale than is currently possible. In today’s world, people have major concerns a lot about some small piece of private information leaked to internet. The possibility for someone’s whole mind, thoughts and life experience to be saved digitally introduces the possibility that it could be viewed by others. There would be nothing private between a user and any parties with access to saved consciousness data of that user.
Tetravaal should have IP protection on the scout bodies used by Chappie and the supporting systems that allow him to move and communicate. Deon does not have any IP protection on his AI program or any right to use the scout bodies without permission from Tetravaal at the time the events in the movie take place. Therefore, installing the AI onto a scout body is a violation of IP laws because Deon is utilizing a scout body against the wishes of the IP holder.
In Chappie, not much was covered directly in terms of intellectual property, but the movie does present some implications about intellectual property with respect to artificial intelligence. Specifically, is the AI called "Chappie" considered property?
Because the robot was created from parts that were all owned by others, an argument could be made for Chappie to be considered joint property of the people who created his mind and his body. If Chappie was not sentient and sapient, the argument would be easy to justify as true. However, Chappie is both sentient and sapient. This makes him a moral agent.
Is Chappie property of the people who created his mind (AI) and body (the scout)? Humans are not considered property of their parents, who created them. If the main distinctive quality of a human is sapience, than any entity portraying a similar level of awareness should be given the same rights as a human. Generally speaking, humans own their own bodies and minds. Therefore, the robot body Chappie inhabits and the AI program that chappie is should be considered property of Chappie, not the people who created these things (his parents). Likewise, the mind of Chappie is owned by Chappie.
Besides these questions, it is interesting to consider how IP laws could be applied to the transference of consciousness that Chappie pioneers. Specifically, would Deon have any right to claim copyright protection on the transference of consciousness through a neural helmet? Chappie created a new application of a technology, but Deon created Chappie. Who would own that intellectual property? Again, if we treat the robot as equivalent to a human, an answer may be derived from existing policies for IP. Humans that create new IP do not have those properties linked to their parents. Therefore, robots that create new IP's should not have new ideas attributed to their creators. Chappie owns the method for transferring consciousness just as much as he owns his own intelligence.
One of the issues that Chappie presents is computer reliability. The police force of Johannesburg is dependent on Tetravaal’s Scout robots. When the lead of the competing MOOSE project steals the guard key and uploads code to shut down the Scouts, the city is thrown into chaos as criminal groups that were kept on the run by the roboticized police force quickly seized control of the streets.
There were many oversights that led to this system failure.
For example, artificial intelligence and robots were entrusted with too much of the city’s security. Artificial intelligence, and machine learning, have an element of unreliability to their behavior, because they respond and learn from an unpredictable environment. Unpredictable inputs to a system can always lead to unpredictable outputs. This is no different than the unpredictability that a human would bring to the task, but it sacrifices one of the benefits of technology - it's reliability, and the fact that it is deterministic. If there are no bugs in a program, it will do what it is intended to do in every situation that it was designed for. AI sacrifices this reliability. The use of AI is a trade between predictability, and better responses to unpredictable circumstances.
Those poses additional issues with the Scouts. They are equipped with weapons, but what happens if there’s a bug in the programming or sensing, and they kill an innocent? This is compounded by the Scouts being intended as relatively cheap robots, that can quickly be replaced if they’re damaged on patrol. Damages to the robot could lead to malfunctions as well.
Additionally, the ability to issue remote updates poses another risk of errors. If a bug is missed during a code review, and the robot is updated remotely, then there is no one on hand to handle any resulting bugs. Had their infrastructure only allowed the robot’s software to be updated on-site, all of the robot’s would not have been able to be disabled.
Though Chappie’s main plot points do not explore issues involving the increasing use of technology and automation in the workplace, the premises of the movie are heavily based on the replacement of human labor with robotic labor. The most clear example of this is the introduction of the Scouts program in Johannesburg. This robotic police force is used to replace human officers, thus reducing the number of police jobs available in the community. In addition, given the level of technical sophistication and advancement demonstrated by these robots in their roles as police, it is logical that relatively small modifications could be made to the robots’ software and hardware that would allow them to replace humans for other tasks that do not involve highly complex decision-making skills or creativity.
Chappie’s sentience adds another layer to possibility of replacing human workers with robots. The AI developed for Chappie, if used more widely, would allow other robots to replace human workers in potentially all areas, as Chappie and presumably other robots are capable of complex decision making and creative thought. The introduction of sentient robots means that all questions posed by the book regarding robotic/computer replacement of human jobs are relevant.
Further, Chappie would be considered a personal AI with free will. Chappie is clearly capable of decision making similar to the level of a human. Would this mean he should be granted the same rights, both involving work regulation and payment and other rights, as humans? Deon and Yolandi’s consciousness transfer to Scout robots near the end of the movie would suggest that, effectively, human and robot consciousness are no different. This leads to the conclusion that intelligent robots, such as Chappie, should be granted the same rights as humans.
The last major issue posed by Chappie regarding workplace changes and wealth distribution is the effect of the competition between the Scouts program and the Moose. Before Vincent Moore sabotages the Scouts, the success of the program severely limited funding and resources allocated towards development of the Moose. In this scenario, the funding allocation may not be as disproportionate as many other examples in the real world; however, it still demonstrates the effect of improvements in one technological area causing economic damages and work allocation reduction in another area.
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Brett, Adilet
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Patrick, Brett, Adilet
We watched CHAPPiE and took notes. Each group member was assigned to look for movie details relevant to 1-2 sections of the book. We also took notes on the plot and briefly discussed some of the primary issues after the movie.
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Brett, Adilet
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Brett, Adilet
|Movie Maker's Intent||Amanda||Brett|
|Computer and Network Security||Brett||Alec|
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Brett, Adilet, Patrick
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Adilet, Patrick
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Adilet, Brett
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Adilet, Brett, Patrick
In Attendance: Amanda, Alec, Adilet, Brett, Patrick