At the end of the 2001 Steven Spielberg movie Artificial Intelligence,

There are advanced creatures that appear and talk to the robot character and let him have one more day with his mommy etc.

The questions are:

Are they organic, robotic, or cybernetic? And, are they from Earth or extra-terrestrial? My personal feeling is that they are evolved from Earthly robots.

In-universe explanations are best, but I'll happily accept gut feeling.


I'm pretty sure the aliens were the advanced descendents of robots, come to study their forebearers. But the scenes at the end are probably meant to be slightly ambiguous. However, there are many hints in the dialogue that they are, in fact, advanced robots.

From sfy.ru -AI script:

SPECIALIST (subtitled)

These machines were trapped under the wreckage before the freezing. Therefore, these robots are originals. They knew living people.

The aliens say "these robots are originals", suggesting that they are taking special note of the fact these are prized first-gen robots.

Scene before the end, explaining the beings' interest in humanity:


David, I often felt a sort of envy of human beings and that thing they call 'spirit'. Human beings had created a million explanations of the meaning of life in art, in poetry, in mathematical formulas. Certainly, human beings must be the key to the meaning of existence, but human beings no longer existed.



David, you are the enduring memory of the human race, the most lasting proof of their genius. We only want for your happiness. David, you've had so little of that.

The "aliens" obviously have the total record of humanity on file. Which while possible for a true alien, would be much more difficult to achieve.

The robots felt that they lacked something the humans had. One would think the writers are suggesting that the robots lack a soul of some sort (I bet Kubrick would have left that kind of cheesy bit out). Or some form of existentialism or lack of passion has driven the advanced robots to seek a purpose for existence in their ancient human creators.

  • 2
    +1 Great answer! Thank you. I'll accept a little later if I don't hear a better one. Dec 6 '11 at 1:09

Spielberg refers to them as silicon-based "supermechas"

"[The future has become] a silicon-based society, no longer a carbon-based society"

  • 4
    Excellent find. Well done.
    – Valorum
    Nov 29 '14 at 2:27
  • I find it interesting that the "supermechas" did not retain the memories of their predecessors and had to resort to digging up old robots for facts that were only 2000 years old. This seems to point towards them being aliens and not evolved robots. However, the boy was a special robot and maybe the "supermechas" needed his special interpretation of humans. I guess that's good film making. We are supposed to feel a little intrigued and left wondering.
    – user48205
    Jul 14 '15 at 20:11
  • 1
    @mike - they were definitely meant to be advanced robots rather than aliens, see the FAQ page here discussing the development of the story which says that in a script draft by Ian Watson, after David sees the blue fairy "The story then jumps ahead a thousand years, to a future in which robots populate the world which is now run by computers. Humans are long extinct. David's remains are discovered, his battery worn down, and revived by these robotic inheritors of the Earth, who regard him as a link with a mythological long-forgotten past."
    – Hypnosifl
    Jul 14 '15 at 20:31
  • I think a more quote to take away from the clip you linked is this: "the robots that we created have replaced us."
    – kasperd
    Oct 22 '18 at 14:49

I think there is no way those aliens are mechanical, because they have the ability to recreate or recall humans from a simple strand of DNA, synthesize memories from David, share and even recreate these perfectly. Now, this ability is incredibly advanced beyond what David or any other robot can do. Since mechas do not evolve in Darwinian terms, like organics do, these apparently came from somewhere far away, or another universe. Where you see aliens, its aliens people... A robot frozen under water doesn't just evolve on its own to become THAT.

  • 5
    Our earliest ancestors would probably never believe that their descendents would be able to clone animals from simple strands of DNA or fly into space or do almost any of the things we do now. One of the central themes of AI was that the robots were feeling emotions and a sense of self preservation. It absolutely makes sense that over time, machines would keep advancing their own technology and abilities.
    – phantom42
    Sep 7 '13 at 21:54
  • 3
    Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Besides, no one is arguing the super-robots from the ending somehow "evolved" from robots like David. Robots are designed and created, not evolved. I think the movie implies each generation of robots built better robots to succeed them.
    – Andres F.
    Sep 11 '13 at 22:03
  • 4
    Your basic premise is flawed. Why can non-biological entities not evolve? Something as smart as an AI robot can surely build it's successor to be improved, no? Weaker revisions will be discarded, stronger ones further enhanced. Repeat that for millennia and you get these guys.
    – Cylindric
    Sep 12 '13 at 12:42

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