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Directed By
Steven Spielberg
Run Time
2 hours 26 minutes
Haley Joel Osment, Frances O'Connor, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas
Theatre Release
June 29, 2001
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Warner Bros.

Christians have argued for centuries that God gave us free will, with all the potential for sin and pain that that entails, because he wanted children who would love him, and not mere robots who would do whatever they were programmed to do. But these days, as neurologists and psychologists develop maps of the brain, many people consider themselves machines. This has profoundly influenced how we understand such concepts as love, free will, and the soul.

The flip side of this mechanistic view of human nature has become popular in science fiction (the genre in which the implications of our scientific theories get fleshed out): to treating artificially intelligent machines as persons, with the same rights as people. These issues are explored in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, a new film about a robot child who is programmed to love.

Steven Spielberg wrote and directed A.I. from a concept that Stanley Kubrick spent years developing (who died in 1999). Kubrick's concept was based, in turn, on the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss.

A.I. is set in a dystopic future, when global warming and rising oceans have drowned many of the world's cities, and married people cannot have children unless the government picks their names in a lottery. Robots of various sorts have existed for decades, serving as butlers, nannies, and prostitutes, but when the film begins, no one has yet created a robot for childless couples.

That all changes when Professor Hobby (William Hurt), an entrepreneurial scientist, proposes making android children to offer genuine love to the parents who adopt them. These children, he says, will have real emotions and even a subconscious ...

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