Our discussions about the future of the internet and smart appliances reminded me of a movie a watched a few months ago called Roujin Z. The film was written by Katsuhiro Otomo, who is best known as the director and original creator of Akira, one of the most highly regarded cyberpunk films in Japanese animation.
Set in the early 21st century, Roujin Z’s plot centers around Japan’s aging population. In order to care for the elderly, the Japanese government created the Medical Crisis Network, giving the elderly special pendants that alert medical personnel in the event of an emergency. After only ten years of using this system, however, it’s already overloaded. To try and solve this issue, a team of scientists working under the Japanese Ministry of Public Welfare invent a special hospital bed called the Z-001. Once placed in the bed, all the patient’s needs are met. It can feed, medicate, wash, and even provide the patient with exercise and entertainment. The bed is even hooked up to the web, so patients can interact with their loved ones without ever having to leave its confines.
Onboard the bed is special “sixth-generation computer” that learn and update its own hardware, not software. The bed ends up taking on the personality of the guinea pig’s dead wife and runs amok, ultimately leading to military intervention.
The film was released in 1991, and as such, gives an interesting look into what people imagined technology would be like 20 years into the future. If my brief summary seemed interesting to you, be sure to check the film out, it’s only 80 minutes long.