The Future of 'Robocop' Is Already Here

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Joel Kinnaman stars in Columbia Pictures' movie RoboCop.
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Removing human soldiers from warfare would also remove conflicts of conscience from the act of war, according to Padilha.

“I mean, America got out of Vietnam because American soldiers were dying and there was a lot of pressure on them to stop the war,” the Brazilian director said. “America got out of Iraq because soldiers were dying. Now, when you take away the soldiers and you replace them with robots, what’s going to happen?

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“Or think about it in another way: if the state gives an order to a policeman and the order is really preposterous and violent, the policeman can say no -- he can revoke it and argue. But if you put a machine in there, there is no criticism. There’s even a third way to think about it, which is every single police department or war group -- the perpetrator of atrocities -- has been trained to be brainwashed to behave mechanically.”

While the reboot of “Robocop” still has plenty of shoot ‘em up violence, the principal characters are named after famous philosophers; Hubert Dreyfus, (Zach Grenier's character, Senator Hubert Dreyfuss) Wilfrid Sellers (Michael Keaton’s character, Raymond Sellars, the CEO of OmniCorp) and Jonathan Bennett (Gary Oldman’s character, Dr. Dennett Norton) — which is no accident.

“Are we just machines, just physical machines, or is there something different in human beings?” Padilha asked. “Those issues we talk about in the movie -- they’re there, embedded in the scenes. In the movie, we have the emotional core, the love of Alex Murphy for his family, enabling him to recover his humanity and to overcome the machine.

“In a certain sense, you can think about it metaphorically. If you have an army of robots and you go into Tehran and you have everybody come out of their houses with their hands up for a non-invasive scanning procedure -- you don’t do that to people you really love, do you? I mean, this is dehumanizing. At a certain level, the way you fight the automation of violence is by making relationships human.”

But Padilha is under no illusion that “Robocop” is going to change the world. “We don’t solve the problems of society on the screen,” he said. “We just put them there so people can think about them.

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