The Truth About Killer Robots

A work of science non-fiction
Feature Documentary – 2018

Writing in 1942 and foreseeing a time when robots are everywhere, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov devised a series of laws to protect humans from robots. Asimov’s first law was: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” The future that Asimov envisioned is upon us.

The Truth About Killer Robots considers three robot-inflicted deaths as a window into global automation and its consequences. Starting in Germany with the death of a worker at a Volkswagen factory, we hear from auto-workers who sense their numbers thinning. At the Foxconn recruiting center in China, robotic advances in the fine motor skills needed for cell phone assembly have pushed workers out of factories and into the service sector.

The first of several deaths resulting from self-driving cars have largely been written off as cases of human negligence, but these incidents reveal a legal system ill-equipped to deal with technology’s pace. As the biggest part of the service sector, driving is the profession where economic disturbances begin to be felt immediately. As artificial intelligence scales across the service sector, even jobs requiring college degrees begin to be absorbed by automation, but the greatest threat that robots pose to humanity goes beyond job displacement. As humans adjust their lives to the rhythm of machines, their faculties atrophy, and human connection becomes ever more remote.

Exploring provocative viewpoints from engineers, factory workers, journalists, philosophers and Asimov himself, The Truth About Killer Robots is a cautionary tale about a world automating beyond control.

Now streaming on HBO.

Directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin
Produced by Joe Bender and Maxim Pozdorovkin
Director of Photography Joe Bender
Edited by Isabel Ponte and Maxim Pozdorovkin
Written by Joe Bender, Isabel Ponte, and Maxim Pozdorovkin