When will robots be sophisticated enough to take care of us when we're older? And when those robots are around, what kind of relationship will we have with them?
That is the big issue being examined in the independent movie "Robot and Frank," being shown as part of this year's World Science Festival.
Robot and Frank is a sci-fi movie about an older man, an ex-thief, whose caretaker is a robot, a caretaker Frank literally turns into his partner in crime as the two quickly develop a deep, personal relationship.
"If the robot is taking care of your dad when he's old, are you being irresponsible?" said Christopher Ford, the screenwriter of "Robot and Frank. "Should you be there making a connection? In the movie, Frank is becoming great friends with the robot while he has this bad relationship with his son."
The film's creators say they started working on this about 10 years ago. But technology started to move so quickly that by the time they started filming just a few years ago, some of the original sci-fi concepts they had come up with were no longer futuristic.
"I thought 'They're not going to have laptops. Maybe they'll have some sort of tablet computer.' When I was writing it, I didn't know what to call that so I called it Tab Tab. Then, when we were actually shooting it, everyone had iPads. So already it was becoming not science fiction. We're all kinda laughing about that and then looking over at the robot thinking 'oh, when is that going to be real, we better get this movie out before it's no longer science fiction.'
As part of its showing at the World Science Festival, a panel of robot creators and their robots, not terribly far off of the one from the movie, including one called Bandit from USC and one called Charli from Virginia Tech, will be part of a panel after the movie screening to discuss how realistic Robot and Frank is.
For more information on the movie, that panel, and the World Science Festival as a whole head over to worldsciencefestival.com.