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Electricity brings sentience to artificial intelligence

by Critical Commons Manager

In Short Circuit, an artificially intelligent military robot is struck by lightning and becomes sentient, causing it to seek knowledge of human culture. After reading an entire set of encyclopedias, it turns to television, where it learns about consumerism and popular culture, including disco dancing and product placement. The anachronistic trope of technology exceeding what is technologically possible due to an influx of electricity is all too common in techno-utopian films of the early personal computer era, repeating a 19th century fetish for the vivifying power of lightning familiar from the Frankenstein story, with varying degrees of ironic self-awareness. Compare similar scenes in which ordinary technologies come to life in Short Circuit (1986) and Weird Science (1985).

A robot learns to dance by watching Saturday Night Fever

Disco serves as a blanket signifier for American popular culture of the 1980s

from Short Circuit (1986)
Creator: John Badham
Distributor: Tristar
Posted by Critical Commons Manager