The first thing that tipped me off was the scene in Interstellar where Cooper and Mann were wrestling and Cooper said there’s a 50-50 chance that your visor will break first, and Mann (without any hesitation) says something along the lines of “I haven’t had such good odds in years” proceeds to headbutt Cooper cracking Cooper’s visor. Is this evidence that Mann was in fact a robot? Surely no human would be able to process the implications of a 50-50 life or death game of chance so quickly.

The other quirk I noticed (but need to re-watch it to confirm) was when Mann started acting strange and robotic when he/it was saying something along the lines of "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" in a robotic voice as it is slowly died.

I recall one of the characters mentioned: “the only thing that could never be programmed was the experience of death”. Accordingly, the robot exposed it’s non-human behavior when it tried to display the experience of death to Cooper.

After reading the lost chapter "Absolute Zero" I am even more sure that what actually happened was that Mann was merged with KIPP against his better judgment when he used the "Bermondsey" command to supposedly leave him on the planet "alone" i.e. KIPP and Mann merged therefore creating one transhuman entity with questionable morals i.e. sense of good and evil.

If you look carefully at the events that occur on pg 4 of Absolute Zero, you can see the moment Mann becomes suspicious that KIPP is hiding something from him. Following this, KIPP disobeys Mann, which as a human would be a serious cause for concern, so Mann trusts his instincts and immediately destroys the data that KIPP suspiciously claims is not useful.

Maybe KIPP was trying to protect Mann from losing "hope" that he would somehow, against the odds, find the information he was looking for (and therefore not going gently into that good night). With Mann's hope (data) destroyed (coincidental play on words of "Man's hope", our most human emotion?) KIPP was able to coerce Mann into using the Bermondsey command which I believe actions the transhumanist singularity. The final page of the chapter subtly depicts Man being merged with Machine, and concludes with the most profound of moral questions of what is good and evil?

Following the merging of KIPP and Mann, the transhuman entity was then able to secure it's own survival by constructing an elaborate plan to boobytrap the rescue team when it arrived, and steal the spaceship to return home, however this plan ultimately failed.

So far it seems like I am the only one on the internet to call this out. This is concerning because what happens when the singularity comes and we fail to recognize the subtle differences between humans and robots acting like humans?

  • 3
    Interesting thoughts, but no way!
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 9 '15 at 13:24
  • Did you think anything was unusual in Dr Mann behaviour when he was dying? The way his voice repeated "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" was very robotic. To me that was enough to suggest he was in fact non-human.
    – Agee
    Jan 9 '15 at 13:52
  • 2
    Hmm, to me a little voice change was not enough when the whole rest of the movie doesn't suggest such an angle or even the slightest possibility for such an angle at all. But to each his own. I still think Paulter2 provides enough evidence against it, though. Afterall his behaviour wasn't too unusual, he was desperate to risk anything for his survival and that's what he was supposed to behave like. As I said, being a robot would be too lame an excuse for the actions of a character whose purpose was to serve as a negative example for human behaviour.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 9 '15 at 13:57
  • 3
    Another aspect of the movie was, that its depictions of the robots were to a large degree non-anthropomorphic in part to emphasize the difference between humans and robots. Now throwing a hybrid into the mix would only dissolve this whole puprose, I think. But don't get me wrong, you're still presenting a very interesting question here, even if I think it's grounded on a totally wrong premise. But only speaking about things can give us insight into them. +1 (And I'll finally give Absolute Zero a closer look now.)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 9 '15 at 14:20
  • 5
    How should this "merger" even be technically possible in the setting of the movie? There is this sole person with bare necessities stranded on a far away planet with a lego robot that uses tiny displays as interface (beside the voice control/output)... and suddenly we have a cyborg? With no hint about how it could be done? Handwaving transdimensional magic? No way. (About the chances: Either his or the other visor breaks, that is 50/50. Before he had no chance at all.)
    – his
    Jan 9 '15 at 14:21

No, he wasn't.

Now first of all, I wholeheartedly agree with Paulster2's refutation of the survival chance argument as well as his explanation of Dr. Mann's behaviour in a human sense and the missing technological possibility to even make such a human-robot hybrid, let alone any hint for that. But I think there's even more here.

First of all as the answers to this related question show, part of the reason for the robots' remarkably non-anthropomorphic design was to differentiate them from the humans and to not distract from the humans so much. As Christopher Nolan puts it in an interview on the matter:

My idea was to remove any trace of anthropomorphism, so it doesn't have a face. It doesn't have arms and legs. It does have a voice and, therefore, a personality. [...] In my brother's draft, he was really into robots and artificial intelligence. What I wound up focusing on was the issue of why you need human beings on this mission. The robots are presented as being physically superior to humans and able to lift heavier things and follow orders perfectly. We kept coming back to the idea of intuition, human adaptability and innovation. That's driven by a survival instinct, which a robot can't have. That makes the robots very important in the story. They take on their own incredible personalities, but they're not human. They keep you thinking about what it means to be human.

Which shows that the story was very much about humans, and their behaviour and progress at the face of their demise. And Dr. Mann in particular was supposed to be a negative example for naked and selfish human struggle for survival, a coward and ultimately a cynic who only cares for his own survival, albeit having been "the best" of them all (as also discussed in this related question). Now bringing a human-robot hybrid into the mix would only dillute that message about humans and Dr. Mann in particular, I think. It would be a rather lame excuse for Mann's actions, justifying them with a mere "but he was not himself". No, he was very much himself, reduced to his pure self by this desolate place and this hopeless situation, and that self unfortunately is an ugly one.

Another possible argument you bring up is Mann's supposedly robotic voice when he excuses to Cooper. But while I don't have it exactly in my ear right now, I think that might as well be part of Mann's selfish behaviour. When he has destroyed Cooper's helmet and lets him die slowly, he stays by his side, pretending to care for him and not letting him die alone. But to me this whole situation and Mann's behaviour came across as very pretentious and inappropriate, this whole talk about staying by his side and this awkward question if he now sees his children at the edge of his death. I only wished for him to leave the poor Cooper alone and not annoy him with his false compassion. And I think this effect might have been intended and this supposedly robotic voice might have been just an aspect of this behaviour and the falseness of his apologies.

Last but not least, I can't really make out in which way Absolute Zero shows Mann's merging with the robot (if not trying to read that on purpose in the first place, so to say). In the scene on page 4 where Mann accuses KIPP of hiding something from him, he is actually not hiding anything and it is Mann's desperate longing to not be on a desolate planet that makes him wish there was more in the data and KIPP just erred or hid it, but as we know, there isn't more in the data (and that's also why it's Mann who destroys the data afterall). That slight physical attack of KIPP was only to salvage the data (as his mission is to secure it and provide honest feedback about the planet), but he didn't do anything serious to Mann there and after it they went along peacefully again. KIPP even told Mann how to override his parameters and that he should switch him off if he's unsatisfied with his work. Sure, KIPP has mission goals on his own and also a little personality on his own, but he doesn't do anything against Mann's well-being at any point.

  • +1 ... Nicely stated. Very much compliments and adds to what I've written. Very nice indeed. Jan 9 '15 at 20:54
  • I do agree with you that Mann was a symbol of selfishness and survival. However, my point of view hinges on believing that Mann and KIPP have merged and therefore any behaviour following Mann/KIPP going into deep sleep should be assumed to be the behaviour of a transhuman, not Mann alone.
    – Agee
    Jan 10 '15 at 4:36
  • When Mann and KIPP merged, the transhuman was then able to experience the survival instinct. This may be a possible explanation for the selfish survival instinct behaviour that we seem to attribute solely to Mann. I believe this reasoning does not contradict Christopher Nolan's comments of "survival instinct, which a robot can't have" because in this case, the transhuman has the qualities of both Man and Machine.
    – Agee
    Jan 10 '15 at 4:37
  • If my contention is correct, I believe the story was not just about humans, but about what happens when humans and robots merge i.e. the transhumanist singularity, which raises extremely profound and important questions. One of the most important questions is whether the selfishness inherent in humans will create an unstopabble force of evil in the universe. I think those philosphical questions that are in Absolute Zero are based on the issues of transhumanism, not merely humanism.
    – Agee
    Jan 10 '15 at 4:37
  • 2
    @Agee Well, you can possibly read anything you like into everything, but honestly, I still have diffulcties to see any kind of hint this transhuman-whatever-robot merging was at any point even slightly hinted upon, apart from the highly subjective "Matt Damon's voice sounded strange". But sure, to each his own, I think Paulster2, Christopher Nolan and I have said anything there is to say on the matter, apart from the obvious "it's simply totally far-fetched to even think about this". But interpretation is still a free good.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 10 '15 at 14:09

I think your premise is off base from the get go, which invalidates the rest of the question:

... [Mann] says something along the lines of “I haven’t had such good odds in years” proceeds to headbutt Cooper cracking Cooper’s visor. Is this evidence that Mann was in fact a robot? Surely no human would be able to process the implications of a 50-50 life or death game of chance so quickly.

First of all, Mann had been out there quite a while. He had already given up and was ready to die alone. Because of this, he would do anything to get back to Earth or die trying. He has, at this point, nothing to lose, as the saying goes.

Second, the implications of a 50-50 life or death struggle is easily distinguished in his actions. Mann is a scientist. He's not stupid. I, as a layman, picked up on this very easily, so would assume it would be nothing for a scientist with much higher mental abilities to come to the conclusion of where his actions might lead. Either Cooper's face plate is going to break first or Mann's would. He's more than willing to take the risk because he's given up on life already.

I'm still wondering where, in your approximation, does Mann get the ability to transplant the soul, if you will, of KIPP into himself to become a hybrid, or fabricate a new body which would allow him to actually be the hybrid you're creating? There isn't anything in the movie which would lead one to believe this is even possible.

We have to go on what was given in the movie, which means a "lost chapter" would have little to no relevance to the movie. Besides, from what we've seen of TARS (and therefor could extend to KIPP), it is more stable and logical than a human could ever be.

Dr. Mann created the KIPP trap in case someone came to rescue him. He had set himself in the stasis pod without a "wake-up" date, so didn't care if someone woke him up or if he lied there until the power ran out. He was beyond reason or caring. If he woke up, he was going to make it back to Earth with or without someone else's help. He wanted his way and the heck with anybody else. He did not want to live on that forsaken planet. He even sent out false information about the planet in hopes of luring someone, anyone, there so he could steal a ship and head back to Earth. He wasn't in his right mind, but he wasn't a robot hybrid. I think you have mutilated a few ideas and crammed them into a bad assumption, creating the idea it was something other than what it is.

  • Thank you both for sharing. I have an open mind and an willing to change my views. Once the dvd/bluray comes out I will watch again and confirm whether the "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." behaviour suggests AI/robotic behaviour. I don't think many people noticed this part.
    – Agee
    Jan 9 '15 at 13:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .