Blog: Chappie (2015) and Universal Access to Knowledge on the Internet
I use to watch good movies, not anymore. When I was in college, I stopped watching good movies and started watching anything with enough noise and visual effects to keep me suspended between consciousness and sleep. Action. Horror. Comedies. Anything, anything that didn’t require too much participation on my part. However, I can’t remember most of movies I watched — except one…
Chappie (2015) directed by Neil Blomkamp is a ‘remake’ of the 1986 film Short Circuit by John Badham. Chappie takes place in the near future when a company designs automata to police the streets of Johannesburg South Africa. A rogue scientist wants the company to fund a project on AI. Something happens (I don’t remember what, but it wasn’t lightening!) and one of the robots becomes conscious. He, Chappie the robot, gets mixed up with Yolandi Visser and Ninja, the hip-hop duo of Die Antwoord. Chappie attains consciousness only to find out that his battery is dying and it cannot be recharged. Faced with mortality, Chappie tries to find a way of uploading his consciousness into another robot body. In hopes of expanding his knowledge, he uploads everything he can find on the internet, because the internet is a repository of all human knowledge. Things happen. Stuff blows up. Some people die. I won’t spoil the movie.
Chappie is not the only movie suggesting that all human knowledge can be found on the internet — see, for instance, Ex Machina. In a way this might be right, but it is also very very wrong. If Chappie wanted to access all the information available on the internet, he would have run into paywalls preventing him access to some of the better content available — I’m not referring to pornography! Paywalls protect publishing companies, such as New York Times, Foreign Affairs Magazine, The Nation and various historical and scientific databases from companies such as Gale (Cengage), Science Direct, and others.
As an independent researcher, some of these companies are my sworn enemies — especially Gale! The internet did not live up to its Utopian-hype. While the internet does not provide us with a fully accessible library of all human knowledge, it does offer us an endless collection of Doxa. This might be a good start, but we can do better… much better.