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Dan Bernardi
[intro-text size=”25px”]In the future, entertainment reviews will be a mandated requirement for all humans, filed much like present day taxes. For expediency and maximum immersion, stories will be streamlined directly into the brain, infusing reality with finely crafted cinematic simulations- “cims”. At a classified laboratory in Cleveland, they’ve already begun testing… on me. These are my reports, code named: Total Review.[/intro-text]

– CIM #1015 – “Morgan” – 92 mins. – release: September 2nd, 2016 –

Standard protocol in the lab includes advanced notification of the cimulation I’ll be enduring. Promotional media usually hype me up beforehand. Posters. Trailers. The internet. But occasionally I have no idea what cim they have in store for me, and such was the case with Morgan. I went into the lab ready to be surprised, being told beforehand by a lab tech that I’d be experiencing a sci-fi thriller involving an artificially intelligent being. Awesome. Those are some of my favorite types of beings.

The cim begins, and I look down to see a white coat and a clearance badge. I am a scientist at a dark and dreary government laboratory on a ranch secluded in wilderness. After a brief mental blip (realizing that I am now a scientist in a lab inside a virtual world existing within a real lab being studied by actual scientists), I get to work. My co-workers, which I’ve affectionately dubbed “the geek squad”, are a handful of cutting edge technology experts, led by Dr. Ziegler. In a way he’s more of a Dr. Frankenstein… His creation, our patient, Morgan, is an artificially intelligent human robot.

In this iteration of a not-too-distant future, with a little hardware, programming and know-how, you’ve got yourself a genuine, fully-functional android. The bot’s own processor takes it from there, developing a totally believable synthetic personality. Sure, Morgan is not the first of her kind, but she is the newest model. Best described as an “it”, but often described as “her” by the geek squad, Morgan is the uncanny valley of an average teenage girl. Sweet, considerate, emotional…  But lately she’s been exhibiting traits more common of your average teenage Terminator. Violent, bloody outbursts.

While the geek squad attest that she’s “not being herself”, I’m not so sure. Between you, me, and the electronic device you’re reading this on, I’m scared shit-less by this robot. I’ve had a blast with C3PO, Wall-E, and Johnny Five, and none of those guys ever tried to stab me like Morgan does to Dr. Grieff. Good grief… She almost went full Ex Machina in the first three minutes. After that inciting escapade, Morgan may have to be powered down, which is how I’m introduced to Lee Weathers, a risk-management consultant. She’s cold and stoic and off-putting- everything I’d expect from corporate.

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Weathers is brought in to analyze Morgan’s behavioral problems and determine if she should be sent up to robot heaven. I hide in the back voting “yes” to termination, while the increasingly transparent geek squad members attempt to convince Weathers that Morgan deserves to live. We welcome Dr. Shapiro to the compound, a therapist with arguably extreme methods of exploring Morgan’s psyche. From behind the glass, I witness some serious science-friction in their session, then shit hits the CPU exhaust fan. I hide in the janitor closet contemplating the dangers of playing God as Morgan goes… a little haywire.

The cim concluded and I wasn’t blown away by Morgan, but despite a relatively drab presentation I remained in a solid state of suspense as the plot thickens and twists. Perhaps the most frightening thought is that the reality in Morgan is not far from our own. I left the lab sparked with new curiosities about the potential of future robo-tech. Will we live among androids in our lifetime? Could humans and the machines they build ever be considered equals? What measures would a robot take to preserve its artificial life? Morgan left me with a series of life-rippling questions, and for that I kinda liked it.

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