Is “The Forbidden Planet” Still Off Limits?

In The Forbidden Planet, scientist Dr. Morbius, discovers on a remote planet of course, an ancient civilization, the Krell, which has been extinct for thousands of years.  Left behind is a vast machine the Krell developed that allowed them to enhance their mental capabilities far beyond normal.  Finding the Krell machine still operable, Morbius soon learns that the machine not only increases his mental and intellectual functions, it also brings into the real world his dark side, manifesting from the unreachable depths of his unconscious mind a creature that eventually kills his entire team and threatens the astronauts sent to rescue him and his daughter.  And of course, being a movie from the 1950s, there is the love interest between Morbius’ daughter and the rescue team commander.  But that is beside the point here.  So, movin’ on . . .

What we also have is the cinematic introduction of Robby the Robot, who later becomes a star and develops his own cult following.  In The Forbidden Planet, Robby is portrayed as a robot of course, but endowed with limited emotions and the ability to basically do anything from making whiskey to moving a house off its foundations.  Of course, he is programmed to self destruct should he be ordered to hurt or kill a human being, which is a clever way to imply he has a conscience and understands good from evil.

So why have I subjected my readers to this?  I think this is a great example of how AI can achieve both good and evil, depending upon how it is used.  Of course, the same can be said of just about anything; a pencil for example.  But what we have here are two opposing points of view of AI.  First, there is Robby.  He is a robot designed to act as a tool to assist humans in manual labor and other things.  He has been programmed with a limited array of emotions which in the film are displayed via warnings of danger and so on.  Robby is an example of where AI is today.  Second, we have the machine the Krell left behind.  True, it also was designed to help the Krell in a huge variety of tasks and was extremely powerful in that task.  The apparent unintended result of this machine was that it developed the capability, by design or otherwise, to tap into the deep-seated, unconscious emotions of the Krell.  The bad ending for them comes when the machine converts those destructive emotions into real-world manifestations.  Dr. Morbius picks up on this and to his eventual dismay and ultimate destruction, finds the machine doing the same to him.

I just wanted to share this as another facet of our discussions on AI and how it can be used, or misused.  In the future, I believe the questions faced by the Krell and Dr. Morbius will have to be answered.  I know, I know, that sounds a bit extreme.  But I have noticed that sometimes Hollywood comes up with something that may seem like fantasy now, but in years to come becomes all too real.

WEEK 2 Summary: Will AI Change Who and What We Are?

The one overarching theme I that really took hold of my attention and my imagination this week is the use of machines as tools to reach academic and personal objectives.  As I have read others’ blogs the issue that seems to have grabbed is the confluence of human and machine in terms of using machines or applications as educational tools. I am not sure why this issue has hit me so hard; perhaps I see in the world today real progress (or some would say digression) toward the expansion of the human experience, especially in terms of education.

A powerful sub-theme has been the physical and intellectual integration of machines and humans.  In The Manifesto for Cyborgs, Haraway (2007) states, “we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machines and organisms” (p. 35). Haraway uses the cyborg as the metaphor for blurring of boundaries between man and machine.  Many of my posts have addressed this very issue.  For the most part, the cyborgs and androids we have seen from Hollywood have been a mix of malevolent and the benevolent.  In most, not always, there is a common absence of human emotion that would determine the actions of good or evil, depending of course, on the desire of the creator or programmer.

In The Transhumanist FAQ, Bostrom (2003) states, “No threat to human existence is posed by today’s AI systems or their near-term successors.  But if and when superintelligence is created, it will be of paramount importance that it be endowed with human friendly values” (p. 24).  This, I believe, is a very telling statement.  If we continue to develop AI for our use, might we be in danger of creating ultimately, sentient beings that have the capability of self-thought and self-realization?  And what does this mean for us as educators and how we approach learning? In fact, what will learning even be like say, 100 years from now?

I know I have gone over my 250-word limit but believe me, I can go on and on.  I will post later a clip from the movie Forbidden Planet.  I think this movie could be the ultimate in what we could face in AI development.

Bostrom, Nick (2003). The Transhumanist FAQ. World Transhumanism Association, pages 1-56.

Haraway, D. (2007). A cyborg manifesto. In D. Bell & B. M. Kennedy (Eds.), The cybercultures reader (2nd ed, pp. 34–65). London ; New York: Routledge.

Comment on Enhanced – discourse and other pretty bots by @rennhann @Eli_App_D what Renée said, Eli. I’m in blissful ignorance. #mscedc – Helen’s EDC blog

[…] educational technology consultant and I’m conscious that I could ‘sell’ myself (enhance myself?) more effectively through social media. It will be interesting to see if the maintenance which I […]

from Comments for Chenée’s Education & Digital Culture blog

Comment on Enhanced – discourse and other pretty bots by hwalker

A brilliant video Chenee and a really interesting area to consider: how we can use technologies to enhance the image of ourselves which we present. One much-discussed element of this is, I guess, how our social media self is a product – often a much improved and ‘enhanced’ version of our RL self.

I’m so pleased that you unpicked and questioned many of the meaningless slogans which surrounded us at BETT: TEL presumptions defined much of what was offered and the discourse around it.

from Comments for Chenée’s Education & Digital Culture blog

Comment on Comment on Myles’s Week 2 Summary by Chenée by cmiller

Hi Chenée,

Maximising the auditory senses via floatation tanks ? I didn’t do any searching on it via google scholar, but that commercial website does claim flotation as a means to enhance learning. I am also minded of the Sci-fi series “Fringe” which made major use of flotation tanks, and talked about guiding voices as audio which could transfer in to the tank and in to the person floating there…. I can’t find any relevant clips on youtube, but this one gives you an idea if you haven’t seen the series:

from Comments for Chenée’s Education & Digital Culture blog

Comment on Week 2 Summary by hwalker

Having spent the week at BETT, where many vendors are trying to sell technologies into schools, your last paragraph struck a chord. Bayne’s observation of the complex interrelationship between the human and the digital is also key to thinking about the use of technology in education; the ‘complex entanglements’ of the human and the technical must be considered. At BETT, I frequently heard TEL perspectives and assumptions reiterated.

(And yes: thank you for the help with getting the IFTTT streams established!)

from Comments for Renée’s EDC blog

Comment on Weekly round-up: Week 2 by cmiller

I found the animation to be some what nauseating. Similar, to that which can happen in some VR experiences. Two things to get around that

1) Provide a fixed point of reference or frame the movement – perhaps in this case, having the presentation appear on a computer screen inside your recording would work?

2) Mouse scroll smoothing. I don’t even know if that’s a thing….

from Comments for Eli’s EDC blog

Comment on Reading Sian Bayne through biblical eyes by cmiller

I read your post twice and skimmed it several times, went out for some fresh air, then came back to it with a cup of tea, before committing to this comment. I don’t have an existing field of studies to draw upon to make more sense of it than I do. I’m not a scholar by trade, but I embarked on this MSc to learn, and I am interested in what you write because I can feel it scratching away at my brain, even if it’s beyond my initial attempts to unlock its meaning or access the background it comes from.

“I want to help them learn how to read and relate with technology theologically” That quote defines a problem which I could with time, get my head around, and likely end up with a better understanding, as I’m sure your students will too. This course must be boon for you in that regard?! I hope that you get to pursue your area of interest through the programme and in to the dissertation.

From reading Silver (2006 p.1-2) I get a sense of how, like Internet Studies, Technology and Theology could pass through the four stages of development, if it hasn’t already. I googled “christohumanism” and see there’s a raft of information about it already. Is this something you have studied/taught previously? What stage is it at already? I’m sure there is a lot to gain for other elements of AI and robotics to understand more about what makes us human, from every perspective. Religion is bound up in the formation of ethics, culture and more in the UK, and even those who follow no religion would be naive to suggest they are free from influence of a church.

I have two ministers (Church of Scotland) in my immediate family, though I’m not following any religion myself. I see technology in the Church as having similar questions around as it does in Higher Education at a practical level at least. Churches have websites, use powerpoint HD projectors; use social media; hold conferences, workshops and of course services. HEIs do those things too albeit with lectures rather than services. Technology both informs the way things are taught and what is taught, and as is required for the development of technology, it is informed by educational practice. Both strive to answer questions about our existence, and both seem to have serious questions to answer about how to remain relevant in the face of unbridled neoliberal advances for politics and economic practice in many “democratic” countries at least.

My brother-in-law is massively technology adept. He has created online communities around his work in the Church; he has used technology to change the shape of his services and that has had impact on his father’s practice (who is also CoS minister). In turn, the Church is looking at ways that it can do with technology and how it fits in a world with technology (

But beyond that I look forward to reading more, least of all so I can enjoy some new areas of discussion beyond that of which I would get the chance to, outwith the occasions when I catch my family with a free moment to think on them.

(ref: Silver, D (2006) “Where is internet studies?” pp1-14 in Silver, David, Adrienne Massanari, and Steve Jones. Critical Cyberculture Studies, edited by David Silver, et al., NYU Press, 2006. ProQuest Ebook Central,

from Comments for Matthew’s EDC blog

Comment on Lifestream summary, week two by cmiller

Hi Matthew,

“3. I’ve sought to tie readings and digital encounters back to education. This isn’t always easy to do, “.

I’ve been wondering about this too. I have a working exposure to the connection between education-tech and education (IDEL in the first semester helped greatly with this), and I have a similar grasp of the interface between entertainment technology (films, games, VR) and society. I’m now piecing my thoughts together to try to get the connection to flow through the readings, my own experience and the educational context.

I’m wondering where the evidence is of the past 20-30 years of educated thinking on these subjects has actually got us in UK higher education. There are pockets of excellence in the UK HEI sector, and there are pockets of excellence within individual institutions, but the baseline level for education tech improving the attainment of our students? In my experience, it seems to first be used as a means to increase the numbers of students, and only after that has reached a steady state, does the thinking change to drive strategy to actually improve participant’s understanding and ability.

from Comments for Matthew’s EDC blog

Comments from smilligan

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.

That’s a good point about the 3D radio – thinking back it was odd that it was showcased at an accessibility event. However it was a good example of the point I was trying to make in how our senses can be manipulated to become more virtual.

I also didn’t mean to make any reference whatsoever to religion. I meant spiritual as in the mind and soul as apposed to physical attributes – but I guess I could have used a different word.

Thanks for the suggested reading too – I’ll be sure to read it.


from Comments for Stuart’s EDC blog

Comments from smilligan

Slightly ironic that in an accessibility conference they were showcasing a technology that is inaccessible to me due my monoaural hearing problems. Still, I don’t begrudge people their new toys.

What I found interesting was the idea of how usage is making this a viable technology. Binaural recording has been available for quite some time now, I remember learning about it 12 years ago in music college. What’s perhaps making this more viable for the BBC is mobile technologies and people listening through headphones rather than off single speaker radios. There would have been no point to binaural sound if most people were still listening off old transistor radios.


I think spiritual is a very loaded term to use. It risks attributing virtual reality technologies with a quasi-religious dimension. Possibly implying transcendence and the erasure of the body. Something that Hayles argues against in How We Became Posthuman (another of the extra readings for this block). Totally fine to use the word spiritual if that is what you intend to imply. An alternative without the religious overtones would be subjective, maybe.

The list of transitions can also be interpreted in a problematic way. Transition implies that we go from one state to another whilst with all the pairs you give the two examples continue to exist and interact together.

I also have a bee in my bonnet about the idea of digital natives and immigrants. Check out The ‘digital native’ in context: tensions
associated with importing Web 2.0 practices into the school setting, Vol. 38, No. 1, February 2012, pp. 63–80 , Oxford review of education by Charles Crook

from Comments for Stuart’s EDC blog

Comment from Helen

Hi Helen, thanks for this scannable post which I found really interesting. I started a Word doc I called Wordulisms to do the same thing, but your point about really thinking about what you are learning as you are hand writing is very apposite. I’m going to try that and see if it helps to fix definitions in my brain better! Learning definitions of words is hard – I suppose they are out of context until you have to apply them. The old learning by doing!

from Comments for Helen’s EDC blog

Comments from mthies

Such a cool idea, Myles! I really enjoyed hearing your perspective, just after reading Sterne’s (2006) deconstruction of cyberculture scholarship too. I frequently fall into the trap of wanting my work to be visually appealing without thinking about doing something which would be aurally stimulating.

I have often thought that as an educator I have to be creative, Sterne’s perspective has made me realise that there is an expectation for tomorrow’s teachers to not only be creative but to be inventors and artists too. Much focus has been placed on how technology can improve our bodies but I think we have not focused on how we have to adapt to accommodate the technology. In this instance (using sound as tool for scholarly thought), it forces us to improve those skills that were not necessary and not even thought about in our teacher predecessors.

Thinking about the future, I wonder if sound could offer a real alternative to how information is disseminated among the academic community and whether publishers could be by-passed more easily. Sterne (2006) criticises cyberculture’s scholarship towards ‘visualist bias’, I can’t help but wonder if the reason for this is because text is much easier to handle than a recording. I can highlight words, write notes, cross out and reference on paper and on my computer. I don’t know a way to do the same with sound – but then again there might be an app for that. I’ll just have to upskill! 🙂

Sterne, J (2006) The historiography of cyberculture, chapter 1 of Critical cyberculture studies. New York University Press. pp.17-28.

from Comments for Myles’s EDC blog

Comment on Tweet by npainting

Couldn’t find the time to get down to London this year but I would have loved to say hi too!

I want my blogged Tweets to look as good as yours, mine look like a word processor threw-up on my Lifestream 🙁

Did you or anyone post a tutorial – I’ve not spotted one yet…

from Comments for Chenée’s Education & Digital Culture blog

Comments from Linzi

“In a world where cyber culture takes us closer to AI, we need to keep boundaries.” –

What should these boundaries be? Should there be a social sanctions to enforce them or are you saying that there will be negative outcomes for crossing them?

Out of interest did you students not mention anything about fashion as driving their choice of technology? They seemed to have already learnt it is more socially acceptable to cite need as a motivation rather than desire.

from Comments for Linzi’s EDC blog

Comments from chills

Good shout on looking up the Turner article. I’ll need to give that a read.

Fake news is not a new concern –

I didn’t know Pulitzer was at the centre of Yellow News culture. Perhaps if facebook manage to sort out their algorithms then Zuckerburg can start award journalism prizes in an effort to airbrush his complicity from public consciousness.

from Comments for Cathy’s EDC blog