Going back almost a hundred years , filmmakers have dished up visions of what our future will look like once the dawn of robots is upon us.
Films about artificial intelligence tend to fall down into one of two tropes that we as viewers have come to know as shorthand: First robots will take away all our jobs, and then once our backs are turned, they’re gonna swipe us all up and toss us into vats of goo and suck out all the juicy electricity from our bodies—because it is their destiny!
The other big trope is that they’re all going to want to be human. Cuz being human is cool, right? Screenwriters must think to themselves: “I know if I was a robot, I’d sure want to be a human,” and then start scribbling away their little Pinocchio stories. It’s cinema, it’s what they do.
But to put you at ease, here a list a films that get some things right about AI and some that are just brainless, get-your-buttery-bucket-of-popcorn fun.
12. The Terminator (Inaccurate)
The first Terminator, and all of its sequels, reboots, and reboot-quels, center around the same premise: That someday some boneheaded programmer will spill an energy drink on a motherboard or something and give rise to an evil, superintelligent operating system that will become hell-bent on exterminating the human race. Because reasons.
Why It’s Inaccurate
First off, in order for an AI operating system to begin building a robot army, the AI would have to be programmed by us to do that in the first place. In this case we’re talking about Artificial Super Intelligence, or ASI, and there are problems with the hypothesis set out by films like The Terminator.
When we imagine ASI’s first instinct after becoming self-aware is that it needs to enslave all humans, we are projecting human traits onto ASI—which is just a thing that we do. Humans are the only species that go to war, and we are the only species that enslaves. So naturally we fear that if we create a superintelligent artificial species, it’s going to take after us and become a warmongering species.
What’s much, much, much more likely is that ASI will examine humanity’s history of warfare, see what a terrible thing it is, and decide to help us figure out how to live on this planet without killing each other all the time. The number one thing to consider here is that AI will not have emotions. Scientists don't know how to do that, but equally, AI would be better off without things like pride, greed, jealousy, and so on. This is a different species we’re talking about, one designed by us.
We have the ability to make sure it doesn’t follow in our footsteps. Energy drink spilling aside.