Artificial Intelligence is wonderful. Until it's not. Sure, we all love telling our smartphones to play "MMMBop" for us, but there may come a day when our cell phones will simply say, "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave," after we've requested to hear it for the 17th time in a row.
And, cinema has been warning us about this for decades (the A.I. turning against us part. Not the Hanson part). Movies with A.I. not playing nice (like the twisty Johnny Depp flick, Transcendence) have read the tea leaves and have shown a not-too-great future scenario if we allow A.I. to run unchecked. In fact, some people believe that A.I. may even replace creatives (some of the writer's strike is said to be centered on just that).
There's hope though, as some are fighting against this, like the 48-Hour Challenge from the Multicultural Sci-fi Organization. In said challenge, filmmakers must make a sci-fi movie without the assistance of A.I. And, while this might not combat a rampaging T-1000, it’s at least a start. Now, on with the movies!
2001: A Space Odyssey
Coming out in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the oldest movie on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, and arguably his masterpiece (Though, not my favorite of his) 2001: A Space Odyssey is about humankind’s journey into the stars, and the A.I. that is going to "help" us to get there.
The movie stars Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, and a few others, but come on. Everybody knows that the true star of this movie (Or at least the “character” that people remember the most from this film) is HAL, the supercomputer. HAL is represented by a haunting red dot, and he talks calmly (maybe too calmly) whenever he’s asked a question. But, since HAL is sentient, it can also decide if it doesn’t want to follow certain commands.
Not only that, but it can even read lips, just in case some of the wily astronauts decide that maybe it would be better to turn it off. Because we can’t have them doing that now, could we?
HAL is terrifying because it’s actually here in our lives right now... sort of. Articles have already been written up about how tech companies have been listening in to our conversations through our devices. Plus, there have definitely been incidents in my own life where I’ve said something and my phone commented on it, even though I didn’t even know it was on. So, yeah. 2001 may have been a bit early of a year to predict A.I. taking over, but it wasn’t too far off. Who knows what will happen in the next 20 years?
Directed by James Cameron, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, and Paul Winfield, I find the first The Terminator to be better than Terminator 2: Judgment Day, mostly because it’s actually scary. There is no good Terminator vs. bad Terminator here. Just a bad terminator that wants to kill a woman before she can give birth to Earth’s savior.
Everybody knows The Terminator. It’s pretty much the de facto go to movie whenever people warn about the dangers of technology. People will regularly just blurt out “Skynet,” as a shorthand for “we’re screwed” if tech actually becomes sentient. Sure, The Terminator movies like Dark Fate seem to have lost their way in the quality department when it comes to ranking these films. But, the message is clear throughout all of them: if A.I. ever gets sick of us as a species, then we all ‘gon die.
Directed by the Wachowskis, and starring Lawrence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, and of course, Keanu Reeves in one of his most badass roles ever, The Matrix proposes the idea that we’re all just living in a simulation that A.I. has created so that it can use our bodies for food. But, there’s hope, as some people in the know are rebelling against the A.I., all to get to some giant rave in a place called Zion (but we wouldn’t really know that until The Matrix Reloaded).
The Matrix is another one of those quintessential movies that show that Artificial Intelligence really wouldn’t think much of us if it ever started thinking for itself. We see some awesome moments of Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith relentlessly hunting Keanu Reeve’s character, Neo. But, the really distressing part is when you get to see all of the humans in those pods, as that made it feel all too real. Oh, robot overlord. If I die, please send my soul to Zion so I can dance all day in a sweaty pit.
Directed by Alex Garland (who wrote the screenplay for Dredd, which is my favorite comic book movie of all time), and starring Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and the incomparable Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina is one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time and it still irks me that it wasn't nominated for Best Picture at the 2015 Academy Awards.
The story is essentially about a programmer (Gleeson) who is offered the opportunity to stay a week at the CEO (Isaac) of his company's place, only to learn that the boss is dabbling in witchcraft (or rather, the Turing Test, which seems like witchcraft to me). The programmer is the ultimate test subject, but, as you could probably imagine given this article, things go awry.
Ex Machina is terrifying because of the build up. We could see Gleeson’s character falling in love with the android, Ava, and how could he not? She seems so real. But, she’s not real, and Gleeson and Isaac’s characters underestimate her, which makes this really scary since we’re now seeing lifelike androids in all kinds of places these days. Creepy, spooky.
Lastly, we have M3GAN, which is a movie that I don’t know if I should be horrified with, or find hysterical (I think it’s a little of both). Directed by Gerard Johnstone off of a story by Akela Cooper, and the legendary James Wan, and starring Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, and Amie Donald, who portrays M3GAN, while Jenna Davis voices her, M3GAN is about a girl who loses her parents, and gets an android as a substitute. The catch is that M3GAN (which stands for Model 3 Generative Android) is meant to be the ultimate friend, as it is meant to protect its owner both emotionally and physically.
And, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m still sure that you can see where it's heading. M3GAN is like a killer doll movie, but with a more sinister bend since it has A.I. powering its decisions, rather than the spirit of some killer or something of that nature. M3GAN would probably be scarier if she didn’t break out into dance at times, but why would I want it to be scarier, when it looks like this represents our impending doom? No, thank you. Dance all you want, little robot girl. Just don’t kill me.
And, that’s the list. A.I. can be a wonderful tool as long as we don’t let it take over our lives. All things in moderation, as they say. For more news on all things related to killer robots, make sure to swing by here often!