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DIGITAL PEOPLE

later, we see the child-mecha David being brought home to live with Henry and Monica, a married couple.Their real child has been put into cryonic suspension until a cure is found for a disease he has contracted. David is cute and completely lifelike in appearance, but Monica understandably feels it can never replace her birth child.

The mechas advanced design, however, allows it to adapt and act like a loving child. Monica warms to it despite some eerie character- istics, such as the fact that it needs no sleep. But when the real son is cured and comes home, rivalry develops between him and David, and other children are cruel to the mecha as well. Eventually, Monica makes the wrenching decision to abandon David in the woods.

For the remainder of the story, David tries to become a real boy so that Monica can love it. It is accompanied by its mecha toy bear Teddy (the films most charming character),and helped by Gigolo Joe, a smooth and handsome mecha designed exclusively for love. Along the way, they see powerful human resentment against artificial beings in a Flesh Fair, where mechas are battered to pieces while the crowd cheers.The movie ends with David encountering future aliens who have come to Earth and give it a kind of resolution in its search for a mother.

It is a long journey from Pygmalions statue and Talos, the bronze robot, to the erotic pseudo-Maria, Gort, which destroys planets, RoboCop, the cyborg who protects the innocent, and David, the little boy mecha that elicits love and perhaps returns it.The journey has covered every aspect of what artificial creatures might do, and gives a range of hopes and fears about their potential.

Our reactions have evolved since Mary Shelleys time. Franken- stein carries whiffs of blasphemy in its references to Victors unhal- lowedwork in reviving once-living parts, which challenges the natural order, or Gods. ButVictors fear of having acquired too much knowledge is also the secular and modern fear of unintended out- comes of technology.That fear requires serious consideration, but it is not supernatural, eerie, or uncanny.

Despite such fears, the virtual history does not suggest that the consequences of creating artificial beings are necessarily bad for the

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