Sci-fi Blockbusters'
Representation of Cyborgs

and its impacts on

Audiences' Perception of
Human-machine Communication

The emergence of Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in human society triggers depictions of AI technologies—not only debated in hard news—but also in fictional and imagined worlds, especially the sci-fi blockbusters. These blockbusters—attracting audiences globally with fancy visual effects and popular (sometimes formulative) storytelling strategies—enable the representation of cyborgs (human-like robots) in people’s lives and shape the audience’s perception of human-machine communication. The blockbusters have been criticized as notoriously misrepresenting the role of cyborgs in human society.

This project includes three parts: (1) computational analysis of the citation-networks among the movies based on digital movie achieve data; (2) a focus-group interview on the young adults as sci-fi movie audiences; and (3) a scoping review of cyborgs featured in communication journal articles. With this mixed-methods design, the current project triangulates how these sci-fi blockbusters portray cyborgs and how such portrayals are reflected in people’s way of life and scholarly research in media and communication. It advances our understanding of society’s perceptions and beliefs towards these cyborgs in particular and ethical AI and human-machine communication in general.  


Network Visualization

This is a network analysis of the citation network among the sci-fi movies on cyborgs, such that if a particular movie (the citing movie, denoted as “A”) features or refers to an earlier movie (the cited movie, denoted as “B”), a directed link is established, pointed from A towards B (presented as “A B” in our network). The citation information in the present study is obtained from Internet Movie Database (IMDB), a public digital movie data archive.

Explore Network Graphs

Text Mining

We conducted four rounds of focus-group interviews in Hong Kong, focusing on the young adults (aged 18 – 35) who were sci-fi movie audiences. This text mining section reports the interview discussant’s sharing and reflections on their viewing experience of sci-fi movies and their perception of (the ideal mode of) human-machine communication and an ethical AI serving human society.

Explore Text Mining Results

Scholarly Citations

We searched the titles of the most important (i.e., being cited frequently) sci-fi movies featuring cyborgs in the ten most canonical academic journals in media, society, and human communication research. These citations present scholarly investigations of cyborgs in the field of media and communication. 

Explore Scholarly Citations

Number of IMDB Records Analyzed

Our project has examined 2336 sci-fi movies and 437 scholarly citations related to sci-fi movies from academic publications in the field of communication and media studies.

Number of Academic Citations Examined