BIG HERO 6, An Insight into Future Robotics Ethics

In this scene Hiro and the students from the technical University are out to capture the man in the mask who has stolen the micro-bots, and killed his brother Tadashi. After an epic battle, the masked villain it is revealed to be professor Callahan, which is very unexpected and somewhat unexplained at this point because he has been depicted as a benevolent character until this point. Hiro and Callahan have this exchange in which Hiro blames Professor Callahan for the death of his brother while become very angry at the same time. In his livid state Hiro orders BAYMAX to destroy Prof. Callahan. The Healthcare robot’s response pretty blatantly demonstrates a major theme throughout this film, robotic ethics.

BAYMAX questions Hiro’s decision in his order to destroy Prof. Callahan as he is programmed to help humans. Once he is ordered to destroy the Professor, he immediately questions the decision bringing up a major internal conflict that Hiro has been presented earlier on in the film. Initially when Hiro presents his invention during the robotics convention, he is approaced by a robotics mogul following his presentation. The general sense of the scene is that the mogul, Mr. Krei, will use the micro-bots improperly, perhaps even maliciously as suggested by Professor Callahan. Ironically in the end it is the professor that ends up abusing the power of the micro-robots in order to exact his revenge on Krei industries, but as we find out is influenced by the emotions of losing his daughter.

Along with the Ethical questions that BH6 raises when it comes to robots and their proper use, there is also a motif of revenge. More specifically, there are two examples of revenge, and how that sense of revenge can cloud the judgement of people. Two very intelligent people in both Hiro and Callahan, have had moments where there anger and emotions have gotten in the way of the values. Ultimately Hiro and Callahan abuse the power of two different types of robots, influences by their anger. Hiro’s brother designed BAYMAX to help heal and help people that are injured. Hiro directly challenges the intitial design of BAYMAX when he orders the destruction of Callahan. It isn’t until the scene above that Hiro realizes that by using BAYMAX for anything other than what he was intended for is not only unethical but disrepectful to the memory of his brother, BAYMAX’s creator. Callahan on the other hand steals the micro-bots, influences by grief and anger, however his realization doesn’t come until much later, when he discovers his daughter is actually alive. In Callahans final scene he is being escorted into a police car, when he sees that his daughter is ok, a look of sadness comes over his face as he will most likely be able to see her again. I believe that this final image of Callahan symbolizes a major message conveyed in the movie, which is revenge is often not the answer.

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3 thoughts on “BIG HERO 6, An Insight into Future Robotics Ethics

  1. I think the second scene you show here really calls into question BAYMAX’s robotic nature. Throughout the movie, before and after this scene, he doesn’t seem to have much to him as far as a soul. He is written as a robotic character, driven by programming, rather than just a person who happens to be a robot, as most fictional robots are. But the scene where he somehow closes a mechanical hatch and understands that he may be reprogrammed to kill someone brings into question where BAYMAX gets his sense of morality. It’s doubtful, from the rest of the film, that he is a truly sentient being, or that such technology exists, but his ability to question the orders of his master shows a spark of potential individuality. Perhaps his primary programming, a caregiver, can sense the anger in Hiro due to his hormonal changes, and is programmed to protect others given what he perceives. Either way, it is impressive that Disney managed to make such a stoic character so lovable.

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  2. Baymax here is obviously pushed against what he is programmed to do when he is asked to kill Calllahan. This prompts the question of morality and ethics. When is a robot supposed to do strictly as it is commanded to do and when is it supposed to question the commands. In thinking about speculative fiction, we can see that the future of Artificial Intelligence will bloom in our lifetime and this is just one movie that makes us question how the role of AI will play in our society. Although Baymax is supposed to be designed to heal, he is asked by Hiro to hurt Callahan and even has the forethought to question the command.

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  3. In this scene, we can see how hiros anger overcomes his hero mentality. In ordering baymax to destroy professor Callahan, he seeks revenge which is atypical of standard superhero traits. Despite others fighting against baymax, girl still commands baymax to destroy. However I found it very interesting that when baymax has his chip in, he exhibits signs of morality. This is important in order to show that even a robot has a sense of what is right and wrong and sometimes our human emotions get in that way of that.

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