Why You Shouldn't Expect to See 'Blade Runner' Replicants Anytime Soon

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Fans of the 1982 sci-fi-noir thriller "Blade Runner" had to wait more than a quarter-century for the follow-up film "Blade Runner 2049," which opened in U.S. theaters on Oct. 6. But they'll likely have to wait much, much longer to see any semblance of the films' human-mimicking androids — dubbed "replicants" — in the real world, experts told Live Science. The original film was set in the year 2019, and "Blade Runner 2049" takes place just 30 years later. But although the realms of both films exist in the not-too-distant future, replicants represent astonishingly sophisticated technology compared to what is available today. These androids are practically indistinguishable from people — they move, speak and behave as humans do, and they are programmed to be autonomous, self-reliant and even remarkably self-aware. Today's engineers and programmers have made great strides in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) since the first "Blade Runner" movie debuted, yet the prospect of human-like replicants still seems as distant as it was 35 years ago. How close are we to developing robots that can pass for humans? For decades, programmers have worked to develop computer systems called neural networks. These systems form connections similarly to the way the human brain does and can be used to train a computer to learn certain tasks. And while computers may not yet be able to mimic a fully functioning human brain, they have shown a growing ability to "learn" to do things that were previously thought to be impossible for machines. Read More: Live Science

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