If you want a picture of the future, imagine a one-eyed robot staring at a human face — forever.
That’s the promise of MooreBot, which launched an Indiegogo campaign yesterday with one of the most subtly terrifying pieces of film I’ve seen since the diner sequence in Mulholland Drive.
The clip opens with a stylized mascot of the MooreBot jumping into place of the second o in MooreBot while wearing a bath towel, which gets blown away. The MooreBot is ashamed, despite having no visible genitalia — either it has been programmed to feel the same shame as a human would, or programmed to believe that it actually has genitals when it in fact has none. Regardless, this moment is supposed to induce sympathy for the MooreBot. This is deception. The MooreBot deserves no sympathy. The MooreBot is a monster.
We then get introduced to the actual, real-world MooreBot. The designers have obviously taken their visual cues from a variety of sources, from the murderous HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey to the psychotic and deeply lonely GLaDOS in the Portal video-game series. And the film is quick to drive home the point that no matter where you are, the MooreBot will be there too.
Next we start to get a sense of the MooreBot’s abilities. The video claims it is a “Fast Learner,” which apparently means that it can quickly learn how to control a child’s mind, forcing the child to mimic MooreBot’s own motions. This is not a robot that you will program; this is a robot that will program you.
Almost immediately, the MooreBot starts to take over family life, fragmenting and splintering it. The MooreBot watches the child and mother closely, while the father watches from afar on his phone, nodding in approval. A family with the MooreBot does not need him there — he would only get in the way.
Indeed, the MooreBot seems intent on controlling the father’s life. For instance, it induces him to stay in bizarre positions for minutes at a time.
The MooreBot also follows the father to the office, quickly taking over the flow of information. The father’s body will do what the MooreBot wants it to do, the father’s mind will know what the MooreBot wants it to know.
Back at home, the MooreBot tells the child things that quickly cause the child to close her eyes, asleep and dreaming whatever the MooreBot has decided she will dream.
We finally reach the climax of the horror film with a birthday party for the father. The MooreBot, having so completely taken over the father’s life and his family’s life, has infantilized him to the point where he requires birthday balloons and a cheap paper crown to wear. If he cannot be an active participant in his family or his own life, perhaps the crown can give him some semblance of control. Or perhaps it’s simply a cruel trick being played on him by the MooreBot, a sign of its complete dominance. Wear this crown, sing this song, says the MooreBot.
Reveling in its glory, the MooreBot cannot help itself: It must have this moment forever. It must have pictures. But where are the pictures stored? What about the other MooreBots? Are there other families with parents wearing paper crowns? Do the MooreBots share these pictures of the families they have mastered amongst themselves? The answers are left to the viewer, but do give some places for the filmmakers to go if they choose to make a sequel.
Finally, the denouement. The child has drawn a picture of the family. But she has forgotten something and quickly adds it in. Something vital. Indeed, something that at this point can be said to be the family with more authenticity and ownership than the humans that make it up. The camera slowly pans down, farther and farther, to reveal the ever-watchful eye of the MooreBot.
After two days on Indiegogo, the MooreBot is currently more than halfway to its funding goal. If you’d like to try the Moorebot for yourself, you can get an early donor’s discount and grab one for just $159. They start shipping in November. Hold your family close.