‘Humans’ is a Science Fiction TV series that explores the issue of humanoid robots
‘Humans’, speculative fiction set in London, is a Channel 4 (UK)/AMC (USA) production with the first of the eight weekly episodes screened on the 14th June 2015 in the UK, the USA screenings are running 2 weeks later. The plot sees humanoid robots, or Synths, mixing it with a flesh and blood humans in a range of domestic/suburban/city settings.
How Close to Current Developments?
Humans is at the near end of the probability spectrum unlike most humanoid robot science fiction. The Terminator series, for example, has, as a key premise, the future development of time travel . . . something that may never be achieved (Terminator Genisys is out July 2015) .
‘Humans’ describes a world pretty much as it is now except this one’s peppered with Synths. Their exact structure hasn’t been revealed but to achieve the human-real droid sophistication seen in ‘Humans’ will, in the real world, require considerable technological development . . . yet it’s a world that’s feasible and one with a lot of investment being pumped into it. A couple of decades from now we may well be telling our Synth to stop hanging around in the cupboard and get out and mow the darned lawn! Adding to the this-could-be-real atmosphere of the series is the fact that it is set not in future or past but right now, a parallel existence . . . pretty much like London today, but with a bunch of androids thrown in.
Don’t expect the story line to be all nicey-nicey with every robot standing at attention and jumping to hold doors open, nor do humans blurt ‘sorry’ at the slightest droid-human misunderstanding. To say there are issues in the ‘normal’, two parents three kids Hawkins family when the new domestic appliance arrives would be gross understatement. Mother and teen daughter’s attitude to the Synth Anita, a slim, young, female droid, ramp up from why-did-we-get-this-thing disbelief to outright enmity and face to face challenges. Dad, the brave guy that he is, brought the new appliance home without bothering to consult with the wife. Oops! Robot-human, human-human tensions prevail and (trying to avoid spoilers here), various other scenarios develop: non-domestic, warehouse, brothel, droids on the run, situations that erupt into violence.
That Creepy Feeling. This series is notable for the ‘creepy’ feeling that comes from having a mechanical being in the family home, a being that’s always watching, absorbing information. And just forever being there, always hovering is a kind of intrusion. ‘What is she doing?” blurts the exasperated mother as she sees Synth Anita pass back and forth on the other side of a glass partition.
Who’s Got the Best Deal?
Human irrationality means, yes, you can be jealous of a machine! The feeling of frustration surfaces when it’s the droid who can afford to spend quality time with the kids. And when they’re all out, does it practice feng shui, relax or whatever it is that droids do once they’ve unloaded the dishwasher. Everyone else has to struggle to school or to work.
The Perfect Flaw. And Synth, Anita Hawkins, a central character played by Gemma Chan, comes with the enviable ability of having perfect poise, composure and, after a night sitting in a broom cupboard, drifts about, serene and immaculate whilst the groggy flesh and blood occupants of the home drag themselves to the shower and down for their first fix of coffee before they even start to feel . . . human.
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This review is by Archie Gerard, author of ‘Raise . . . Eraze’ a full-length science fiction novel available August 2015.