Deployment Strategy (2007) – By Nic Brown

 Isaac Asimov was one of the first science fiction authors to tackle the idea of artificial intelligence, specifically related to robots. He created Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, which set the standard in fiction and in actual real life robotic programming for how artificial intelligence should behave. Phillip K. Dick later asked the question of sentience and artificial intelligence with many of his works, particularly “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” where replicants, human looking androids, are used as slave labor off world and banned on Earth.  Now writer/director Mark Cheng brings us his take on the subject in his short film Deployment Strategy.

Set only 50 years in the future, Deployment Strategy looks at a number of artificial intelligence related issues through the eyes of a tactical unit (D9 squad) that works for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybernetics division. Their job is to be the enforcement arm of the government’s efforts to control artificial intelligence and prevent the introduction of dangerous software into artificially intelligent systems.

Although a short film, Cheng still manages to bring out a number of questions that are today only academic, but promise to be real in the not too distant future.
What rights do artificially intelligent beings have? If humans are cybernetically altered, at what point do they stop being human? Not to mention the overriding question of what is mankind’s role in this as creator of self aware technology?

Deployment Strategy is an intelligent and fun film to watch. Cheng uses CGI effects well in the film to help create the feel of a world 50 years in the future, but don’t worry there are plenty of traditional effects as well during the fight sequences. In particular look for the one of the most thorough head bashings in recent years as an android literally pounds a man’s head to mush.  Another strong point of the film is the dialogue, which is quick and realistic. Deployment Strategy also features a number of strong performances including Nathan Faudree as the self assured team leader, Major Huron and Rey Oliver Bune as Lee, the computer psychologist.  
The biggest problem with the film is its length. At 30 minutes long it is hard for the characters, although well acted, to move beyond being two dimensional. It would be nice to see this story developed into a feature length film to help resolve some of the plot and character development issues that are inherent with a short film such as this. If you have the chance, take 30 minutes or so out of your life and watch Deployment Strategy, true sci-fi buffs won’t be disappointed and those not into sci-fi may find themselves surprised by a smart and well made feature.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the website at