RoboCop Is Back. Imagine a World Where Drones Kill Innocent Civilians...

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 9 2012 2:32 PM

RoboCop is Back, and Less Far-Fetched Than Ever

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A website for the fictional private law-enforcement firm OmniCorp is part of a viral marketing campaign for a RoboCop remake due out next year.

Screenshot from http://www.omnicorp.com/

DEEP MOVIE-TRAILER NARRATOR VOICE: Imagine a world… where Detroit has become a dystopian ruin… where armed government robots accidentally blow up civilians… and where bionic enhancements blur the lines between man and machine… Ah hell, just imagine our own world, OK?

Such has been the course of technological change since the original RoboCop came out in 1987 that its major conceits barely qualify as science fiction. That is clearly not lost on the producers of a new Hollywood remake, scheduled for release next year. This weekend they dropped a YouTube promo video advertising an OmniCorp product line that includes “the XT-908 aerial drone,” which boasts such no-longer-futuristic features as infrared tracking, facial recognition, reactive cloaking, and active stability.

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OK, so we don’t yet have land-based drones armed with Hellfire missiles, like the ED-209, and our cyborgs so far have a lot less existential angst than Alex Murphy. But this remake almost feels too timely—like it's in danger of crossing the line that separates allegory from mere sensationalism.

Meanwhile, in Detroit, plans are afoot to build a RoboCop statue.

Further reading: Chris Wade explained in Brow Beat last year why everyone's remaking Paul Verhoeven's movies now.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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