THE VIRTUAL HISTORY OF ARTIFICIAL BEINGS
The cyborg in RoboCop also has difficulties with his new status. Set in the late 1990s, the story takes place in Detroit, where the crime rate is rising fast. The police force is operated by a profit-making corporation called Security Concepts, Inc., which plans to replace human police with robot ones. The first attempt, a robot called ED 209, is grotesquely malevolent in appearance, with a matching aggres- sive attitude—so aggressive that it kills a corporate executive during a test run. (A darkly amusing subtext is the film’s satirical vision of the corporate, yuppie, political, and media cultures of the 1980s.)
After this undeniably bad corporate moment, Security Concepts decides to try a human–machine combination. They find a perfect candidate in Alex Murphy, an effective and decent cop who has been killed by a criminal gang, but whose brain function can be revived.As Desson Howe of the Washington Post put it in his review at the time, “A little riveting here, some programming there, and Murphy be- comes RoboCop.” Murphy’s new embodiment looks robotic; in full battle drag, he is a massive steel figure with his only visible human parts his mouth and determined jaw.
RoboCop is on the side of good—at least, good as defined by the prevalent police and justice systems. He is implanted with professional ethics in the form of three directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law. His machine skills make for excel- lent police work. Like the Terminator, he never quits, has exceptional strength and speed, and is a crack shot,thanks to his automated target- ing systems. He becomes something of a heroic “good” cop, incapable of being bribed, always careful to advise arrestees of their Miranda rights, and in a television interview,responding just as a human neigh- borhood cop would:
TV newsman: Robo! Excuse me, Robo? Any special message for all the kids watching at home? RoboCop: Stay out of trouble.
But his human origins haunt him as old memories begin to sur- face. The family he once had appears in emotionally painful flash- backs that he cannot control. He wants to seek out these ghosts from his past life, but decides that they are better off not knowing what he