I love when Wired drops best-of lists like these in my lap, especially when I can without prejudice select my favorite robot of all time (above), from what is probably the greatest robot film of all time. But even if you disagree with my top bot, I’m betting that you’ll have a hard time beating the rest of the artificial intelligences that have changed culture as we know it. Boot up, read on!
Czech playwright Karel Capek popularized the term robot in the 1921 play R.U.R., spawning a deluge of artificial life forms in popular culture.
Wired.com assembled this list of androids, cyborgs and other memorable machines that left their indelible imprints on movies and television shows in the ensuing nine decades. They will be remembered long after their robotic brothers are shipped off to the great scrap heap in sky (located somewhere near the outer edge of the solar system).
The Iron Giant
Source code: Brad Bird’s timeless 1999 animated film, The Iron Giant.
Execute win! An interstellar superweapon with a heart of gold and hip friends.
Major malfunction: Self-aware maxim “I am not a gun” obsolete in desensitized 21st-century hyperreality.
Source code: Genndy Tartakovksy’s stellar American anime series, Sym-Bionic Titan.
Execute win! Next-gen mecha-bot nerd scores with ditzy high-school cheer queen.
Major malfunction: Along with Tartakovksy, deserves more attention, credit, episodes.
Source code: Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s hard-to-kill sci-fi spoof Futurama.
Execute win! Despite being a suicidal, self-absorbed jerk, can still save face … and the day.
Major malfunction: Does not compute.
Source code: Pixar’s hearts-and-minds winner Wall-E, in which the bot goes from recycler to adventurer.
Execute win! Meek-bot scores superweapon love. Saves humanity from its fat, stupid self.
Major malfunction: Saves humanity from its fat, stupid self.
An extended version of this article appeared at Wired