Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots

Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots

Series 1 - Episode 1

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Review

If the title of this two-part documentary sounds like a film starring Will Smith or Arnold Schwarzenegger, that’s probably no accident. Fears of a machine revolution are voiced by evolutionary biologist Dr Ben Garrod – and compounded by an ominous soundtrack. Garrod is unnerved not only by how robots now look like us (in Japan he meets Erica, resembling a synth from Channel 4’s Humans), but also by their potential to think like us.

Electronics engineer Prof Danielle George, however, sees all this as an opportunity, and is like a kid in a sweet shop in Oxford’s automated Mini car plant. “The faster we can go with this, the better,” she says. It’s a fast-track journey from Karel Capek’s 1920 christening of the robot and the clunky prototypes like Eric and Elektro to today’s cyber-wizardry (Boston Dynamic’s Atlas and BigDog look scarily untopple-able). The balance of both machines and film is commendable, but I know which side I’m on.

Summary

Professor Danielle George MBE and Dr Ben Garrod explore whether the rise of robots will enhance the progress of humanity, or ultimately threaten our survival. In the first episode, the pair uncover the obsession with robots in human form, and visit the fearsome Eric, the UK's first robot, to gain an understanding of the deep distrust towards robots inherent in Western culture.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Professor Danielle George MBE
Presenter Dr Ben Garrod
Director Matt Cottingham
Editor Sabrina Burnard
Editor Steve Clark
Executive Producer Dan Kendall
Executive Producer Leesa Rumley
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Education