Once upon a time there was a forest that teemed with life, love, sex, and violence. Things that humans did naturally, and their robots copied flawlessly. This forest is vast and surprising. It is full of grass and trees and databanks and drowned apartment buildings filled with fish. It can be a frightening forest, and some of its paths are dark and difficult. I was lost there once, a long time ago. Now I try to help others who have gone astray.
On the evening of Monday, April 9, 2001, not much was happening on the geeky parts of the internet until fan site CountingDown.com posted links to a new trailer for “the most mysterious, and most anticipated, movie of the year.” The film was A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, a collaboration-beyond-the-grave between blockbuster director Steven Spielberg and auteur visionary Stanley Kubrick, who’d passed away in 1999 after years of lobbying Spielberg to direct his story of a robot boy who wanted to be human. The trailer was available as a 7.4 MB Windows Media file or, for those with a faster connection, a “Hi-Res” Quicktime version in 480x272 pixels, just large enough to read the credits at the end.
The trailer was reposted by other sites, including Aint It Cool News, then a major trendsetter in movie geek culture. A few talkbackers there commented on some oddities in the trailer: “Am I a nerd for noticing... under the credits they show it has ‘SENTIENT MACHINE THERAPIST Jeanine Salla’—whats up with that, yo?” Others pointed out the strange notches in “SUMMER 2001,” but no one quite knew what to make of them.