Polygon, this avant-garde Soviet short film on robotic warfare

This short ten-minute animated film was created around forty years ago, but it already predicted a future in which robots would be at the heart of war. Banned at the time, this short film is now considered very relevant.

The Soviet Union produced the short film polygon in 1977. It is considered today as an anticipation of a current debate present in various fields whether at the political, scientific, but above all military level. Indeed, the question of the robots actors of the war has never been so present, although the latter is not really new.

The story takes place on an isolated island of tropical appearance on which many soldiers are working hard to develop the land in order to make it passable within the framework of military trials after having evicted the local populations.

This is to test a new generation of tanks controlled by artificial intelligence. So far, nothing so revolutionary. However, the prototype built by the main character, a kind of teacher, is able to sense and detect the presence of hatred (motivating the fight) and fear (of being destroyed oneself) in the enemy by interpreting the signs biology of his emotions. This special weapon will eventually turn against its creators not without morality.

The short film, of exceptional quality for the time, had been classified as a film intended for adult audiences, then banned after its release in a few Soviet cinemas. This ban was probably motivated by the subversive nature of the film.

Today we can establish a kind of link between polygon and Vladimir Putin’s recent statement regarding the « development of military autonomous robotic complexes ». This type of project is similar to what is already being done in the United States in certain NATO countries as well as in China, but concerning Russia, a slight difference should be noted. Indeed, this one ardently wishes to develop ground combat robots without any driver and it is here that the tank of the film polygon is relevant and forward-thinking.

Here is the short film polygon (1977) by Sever Gansovsky and Anatoliy Petrov (Russian English subtitles):

Sources: War Is Boring – MotherBoard – Internet Movie Database

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