Did MST3K’s Joel Robinson Create Artificial Intelligence for His Bots?

It is time to totally geek out and blow one aspect of a glorified puppet show way out of proportion. I am going to talk about a show that is near and dear to my heart – Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Question

Did Joel Robinson invent artificial intelligence for his Bots?I know I’m not supposed to worry about how Joel eats and breathes, and other science facts (la la la), but I can’t help wondering: Did Joel create artificial intelligence for his Bots?

Think about it:

  • Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo disobey Joel all the time
  • They have a firm grasp of American pop culture and fashion trends despite never having visited Earth
  • They make up jokes on the fly that are pretty distinct from Joel’s mellow style. Joel even had to tell them once not to use such dark humor
  • Crow has been known to lie and cheat
  • Crow, Servo, Gypsy, and even Cambot (at the end of the Danger!! Death Ray episode) have all cried at sad and tragic things
  • Their natural state is to be antagonistic toward Joel. Like when Joel puts protocol modules on them to make Crow and Servo love him, but the moment he removes the modules they look at him with disgust
  • And why would Joel program his robots to incessantly mock him and destroy his beautiful creation made of toothpicks?

All of these things lead me to believe that Joel invented artificial intelligence for his Bots. Perhaps he wanted his companions not to be lifeless underlings that would simply do his bidding, but sassy friends to help him keep a sense of humor about his situation being stuck on a spaceship called the SOL.

The main title song says that Joel used the special parts that would have allowed him to control when the movies begin and end to make his robot friends. He could have spared himself plenty of pain by not having to watch any terrible movies, but he instead chose to build possible sentient beings to bear his burden and safeguard his sanity. Isn’t that what friends are for? And despite their gruff exteriors, Crow and Servo are absolutely Joel’s friends.

Some Doubts

Then again, at one point Crow struggles to figure out the inner workings of what is obviously just a simple puppet on Joel’s arm, and he says, “That thing’s no more alive than I am!” Plus, Joel was able to increase Servo’s sarcasm level so high that it eventually made Servo’s head explode.

Could it be that all of the Bots’ personality quirks, jokes, quips, and philosophical questions about life and existence stem from an elaborate bit of programming given to them by their creator? Are they just machines like Joshua in WarGames, giving programmed responses to questions and circumstances, but never truly having their own original thoughts?

I Don’t Get You

I suppose it all comes down to what it means to be a sentient life form. Watch this video and tell me that Crow doesn’t sound like a complex, evolving being:

Sure, he starts out by talking about his cyber-based bubble memory and Unix operating system, but he goes on to address his emotions, wisdom, current understanding of his own self, and his tendency to panic when making a sandwich. Those sound like human (if somewhat neurotic) tendencies to me. I mean, why would a robot need to make or eat sandwiches at all?

The Secret of Gizmonics

I think the fact that Joel is an inventor working for a company called the Gizmonic Institute might just give a hint about the origins of the Bots’ consciousness. I’m inclined to believe that Gizmonics created artificial intelligence. It’s unlikely that Joel invented it for them because he was just a lowly janitor there. Joel took the parts available to him on a spaceship created by Gizmonics and built four sentient beings for himself. That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

I’m probably way overthinking this. I should really just relax.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

The image and video clips are the copyright of their owners.

About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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