Äkta människor (English title: Real Humans) is a 2012 Swedish science fiction/drama series set in an alternate near-future version of Sweden where consumer-level humanoid robot workers and servants are widespread. The series follows the resulting emotional effects on two families as well as the trials of a group of robots who have attained free will and want their freedom from human ownership.
In a parallel present the artificial human has come into its own. Robots no longer have anything robot-like about them. New technology and advancements in the field of science have made it possible to manufacture a product – a kind of mechanized servant – that is so similar to a real human that it can often be considered a perfectly good substitute. The Human Robot (HUBOT) have also given rise to new problems and dilemmas. Thorny legal questions have increasingly started to occupy people’s minds and are still waiting to be answered: Who is responsible for the actions of a hubot? Do hubots have some form of “hubot rights”? Should they be paid for their work? As an ever growing number of people form relationships with hubots, the boundaries between human and machine become blurred. When humans make copies of themselves, which are so close to the real thing they form emotional bonds, the questions arises – What does it really mean to be ‘human’?
Image © Johan Paulin
It premiered on SVT 1 on 22 January 2012. The series was written by Lars Lundström and directed by Harald Hamrell and Levan Akin. As of 2013, the series has been sold to about 50 countries, including Australia, France, Germany, and South Korea. A second season of ten episodes premiered on SVT1 in October 2013. In April 2013 the official Real Humans Facebook page posted a message that Lars Lundström is currently writing the third series, but as of August 2014, SVT is yet to officially announce whether the series will be renewed for a third season.
The first season of the program received glowing reviews. Io9’s Charlie Jane Anders called the program “startlingly beautiful”, disturbing and “creepy as hell”. The Australian called it “the best science fiction to hit the small screen in a long time”. Joe Hubris called it “the best android story … since Blade Runner”. The rights to an English-language version of the programme were sold to Kudos Film & Television, and the format rights and international distribution to Shine Limited. Called Humans, the English-language version debuted in 2015 on Channel 4 in the UK, on AMC in the US and Canada, and on ABC in Australia.