QUOTE: “I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”
—Ash, science officer of the commercial starship Nostromo after being exposed as an ‘artificial person,’ expressing the crew’s odds of survival against the creature.
The alien may have created the suspense in Ridley Scott’s Alien, but it was the robot that caused the suspicion. Alien revisited the fears of 2001 and further advanced the idea that the real nature of robots, if left to their own devices, is to destroy humankind.
The crew of an outer space mining colony ship figures that out the hard way. Already coping with a 9 ft. acid-bleeding angry E.T. onboard their ship, they learn that disguised among them is an ‘artificial person’ named Ash, sent along by the mission’s financiers in the event of just this sort of close encounter. Ash’s top secret instructions are to study, preserve and return the lifeform at all costs, even at the risk of the crew.
Hollywood’s view of robots in this movie is that we don’t yet know how to program something as unquantifiable as our humanity, and, no matter how advanced robotics gets, we probably never will. Of course, the creature leaves you frightened, but to leave you feeling deeply disturbed this movie taps into our fears of finding out that our human-like inventions have no real humanity at all.