Backstory EditThe Axiom, designed some point after the year 2100, was originally supposed to carry people into space for a five year cruise while hundreds of WALL-E robots would clean up all the trash and pollution on Earth. However, Operation Cleanup, as it was dubbed, failed as the hostile surface of the polluted Earth had broke down all but one WALL-E unit, and Earth becomes too toxic to live on. The Autopilot of the Axiom (AUTO) receives a message 700 years before the movie starts to not return to Earth under any circumstances, and that the most viable course of action was to remain in space. No one else aboard the Axiom hears this message. Therefore, every few years, an EVE probe is sent to Earth in search of plant life that would suggest that life on Earth was sustainable.
In the Movie Edit
In the movie, WALL-E and EVE find a plant specimen, and EVE is taken back to the Axiom with WALL-E in tow. However, AUTO, who is aware of this immediately, sends another smaller probe, called GO-4, to take the plant and destroy it. WALL-E and EVE manage to retrieve the plant from an escape pod that was about to self-destruct (with WALL-E still inside), and they deliver it to the Captain of the Axiom, who desperately wants to return to Earth. However, GO-4 throws the plant into the trash chute. WALL-E, who was climbing up the chute, manages to save the plant. GO-4 traps EVE, while AUTO electrocutes WALL-E, nearly destroying him. WALL-E falls back into the garbage chute. AUTO shuts EVE down, and throws her into the garbage chute. AUTO mutinies against the Captain, confining him to his room.
EVE manages to reboot, and saves WALL-E, who is in critical condition. WALL-E, who has the plant, gives it to EVE, who realizes that if they can get it to the ship's Holo-Detector, they can return to Earth and save WALL-E. EVE, holding a nearly destroyed WALL-E, points her blaster at a security robot, who takes a photo and broadcasts it around the Axiom. The Captain, who sees this, realizes there is still hope after all. AUTO sees it too and sends an entire brigade of security robots to stop EVE and WALL-E. The Captain broadcasts a message to EVE and WALL-E, and tells them where the Holo-Detector is. AUTO cuts off the message, and they are confronted by a whole group of security robots. With the help of a group of malfunctioned robots that WALL-E saved earlier in the film, they manage to destroy the brigade of security robots.Meanwhile, the Captain manages to trick AUTO into coming down into his room. The Captain grabs onto AUTO, who pulls him up into the Command Deck while trying to get him off. In the fray, the Captain manages to activate the Holo-Detector. EVE flies towards it, but AUTO, being a wheel, spins and throws the Captain off, tilting the entire Axiom to the side. AUTO then turns the Holo-Detector off. As it sinks back into the floor, WALL-E holds up the Holo-Detector, while EVE holds back a huge metal plate that would have crushed several people to death because the Axiom was tilted. AUTO electrocutes the button that turns off the Holo-Detector, causing it to slam down and crush WALL-E. The Captain, seeing this, gets to his feet (The first human to stand in 700 years, because technology has advanced that far), and battles AUTO. The Captain manages to avoid AUTO's electrocution prong, hoists himself up, and switches AUTO's autopilot function off. The Captain straightens out the Axiom, EVE manages to slip the plant in the Holo-Detector before it completely crushes WALL-E, and the Axiom jumps into hyperdrive and lands on Earth. EVE manages to fix WALL-E, and the two live happily together.
Villain... or "just following orders?" Edit
AUTO's role in the movie is a matter of debate.
Some argue that AUTO's time on the Axiom over a period of 700 years had given him a subtle personality and sentience (just like WALL-E), meaning that he was in fact power hungry and wanting to exercise control over some sort of manipulative to satisfy his personality disorder.
On the other hand, it's widely accepted that AUTO was simply following the orders that it was given. AUTO likely doesn't understand much outside of one-dimensional calculations and explicit orders, meaning he cannot judge a situation outside of his embedded protocol. In other words, he was not keeping humanity on board the Axiom out of bad intent or for humanity's protection, only because his orders were to do so and the events in WALL-E had simply elicited a more firm response to maintain his directive. The specific order he was following during the movie was "Directive A-113".
Auto's role in the movie is a matter of debate. Is he a villain, preventing humans from returning to Earth because he wants control, or is he merely doing everything he can to follow the orders he was given? This issue can be looked upon either way. However due to Auto's apparent lack of true sentience (he was always very mechanical) it is most likely he was following program - however when a machine follows program it can easily be seen as "evil" by human beings since a being that is run purely by logic does not have the capability to understand ethics (in fact ethics is often the opposite of logic) - this means beings that follow program often appear ruthless, authoritarian and even evil: the idea of a being void of emotion is alien to a lot of humans and thus is seen as negative regardless of whether or not the character itself is "good" or "bad".
Another theory states that he is neither "logical" nor "ethical." However, ethics, which governs proper conduct, must always in accordance with reason. It can be said that a rational being would interpret mankind's position in the Axiom as physically and intellectually decadent, while their return to Earth shows a realization of duty and a sense of active control over their own fate. Because such a solution is defended in this way, it can be argued as the ethically correct solution for the way humans behave. Often, a cold, emotionless logician does not factor in some of the subjective values that must be taken into account when considering the conduct of people, but AUTO is not trying to think of the best course for humanity. Thus, he is not logical. He operates logically within the confines of his programming, but this is limited to a single mission: "stay the course," and "do not return to Earth." He only thinks of the most efficient way to keep these things true. Thus, he is not "evil" in the sense that he has malice, or ill-intent for his own self-benefit. No, he doesn't think at all, he just does. He is an extension of an out-dated order from centuries past. He is amoral, though his actions, not the being, are immoral because they would ultimately harm mankind.
AUTO's personality resembles much of the personality of HAL 9000 from 2001: Space Odyssey. Unlike most other robots in the story, AUTO is shown to be collected and emotionless. just complies with the orders that have been given to him by the Chairman of Axiom Corporation, through the A113 Protocol. As such, because of his programmed orders, he also can be quite ruthless as to his pursuit of his orders' success, even if it means forcing the human crew to comply against their will. AUTO's logic center begins to faulter later on in the story, as he takes more and more desperate measures to fulfill his directive (Launching an entire fleet of SECUR-T units to intercept WALL-E and EVE, etc)
Powers and abilityEdit
As the autopilot, AUTO has control of the Axiom and its course. He also has control over the security robots and a "henchman," GO-4. He also has a taser in one of his arms, and was strong enough to lift the captain.