Let me start by saying that I enjoyed the movie Big Hero 6. Pixar always has a special place in my heart and I find this movie better than some of their recent works.
The movie got me thinking about the usage of the technology. As a researcher myself, I would like my research to be used for decent purposes. Therefore, I tend to stay away from some obviously evil areas and focus on more humane ones. Well, this is not specific to research, one should always consider the bigger picture rather than just following the orders.
I don’t want to any give spoilers but basically, the movie revolves around a kid (Hiro) who fights against an evil-doer with the help of technology and friends of his late brother. The movie takes a dramatic turn when the team decides to fight against this evil-doer. As all of them are inventors/researchers, they quickly turn their current research projects into weapons. I must say that in real life, researchers cannot use their own projects without an explicit permission from the university or research institute that funds it. I saw cases where years of research effort was thrown away because the university and the researcher cannot agree on terms. But, maybe this is a topic for another post.
What troubles me is that the robot of the late brother (Tadashi) is also converted into a warrior. Tadashi develops a robot to help people: the sole purpose of Baymax, the robot, is to give medical assistance. Tadashi even designs its exterior as a balloon, so that it would be less intimidating, if it will be at all. And this robot is converted into a war machine after its creator passed away.
To be fair, it is not only Tadashi’s technology that is converted into a weapon. Hiro’s inventions are used out of their purpose as well, as if they are not risky by themselves anyway.
Of course, the weapons in the movie are used for good, or in other words, they were required to stop evil. This is a dangerous idea since it is the main argument behind the arm race of the governments. On the other hand, it is true that in some cases people actually need weapons just to stay alive. What is worse is, in modern world people who have the power do not need weapons to destroy people. Usage of excessive violence for social change is a complex topic that I am not capable of elaborating on. However, I know that the arms and killing people is not a long term solution.
The relation between technology and weapon industry has always been very strong. Some people even argue that the mere usage of technology destroys the earth as we know it. I don’t see the whole humanity to stop killing each other in the near future. But until then, the question remains: can we prevent the misuse of what we develop?