April 2018 Published in Forbes
Artificial intelligence (AI) and the silver screen have a long, complicated relationship.One may think AI’s presence within Hollywood hits is a new phenomenon, but in reality this area of technology has been influencing films for the best part of a century.
From Metropolis in 1927 and the iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey some four decades later, through to cult classics BladeRunner, Tron and The Terminator in 1980s and more recent blockbusters like Minority Report and WALL-E, AI has been a popular theme for production companies for a long time now.
Moreover, the trend is becoming more prevalent – between 2010 and 2018 there was a 144%increase in the number of AI-themed films released compared to the decade before.
“So what?” you may ask. Well, mainstream cinema has a huge influence on how people perceive certain topics and issues. And in the vast and varied world of science fiction movies, the way AI is presented has undoubtedly had an impact on our general understanding of this technology.
Friend or foe, saviour or destructor, what can we take from Hollywood’s vision of AI? And what are the more common misconceptions from famous movies that we ought to shatter?
Firstly, we must separate the two most common ways AI is presented in film. The first is AI as a cyborg – robots with human-like (or super-human) abilities that can assist or harm mankind; see I Robot, Transformers and The Terminator as common examples of this. The second is AI as amore holistic operating system – a wide network of technologies that are learning, communicating and acting; Moon and The Matrix would fit into this category.
In truth, the former have little meaningful connection with the way that we – both as consumers and businesses – would use the term today. Robots imitating humans in a physical sense lends itself well to action films in the Sci-Fi genre, but this is not the direction AI development has taken, or indeed will take in the years to come.
Rather, the second interpretation of AI is far closer to the truth. After all, AI is typically manifested in non-physical computer programmes applying human-like intelligence and decision-making to complicated, laborious and data-intensive processes.Amazon recommending you a product, Siri telling you what the weather will belike tomorrow or driverless cars knowing when to apply the brakes are some of the common examples of this.
Major films that present AI in such a light have, in fact, served as a powerful illustration of AI’s potential. To that end, Hollywood has played a starring role in bringing AI into the public consciousness, making people aware of the way interconnected technologies and huge volumes of data can translate into machine learning (ML) and AI toolsets. They also highlight some ethical questions regarding whether AI is a force for good or evil; Fountech firmly believes it is the former, but that is a debate for another day.
Ultimately, the underlying message when examining the relationship between AI and the silver screen is to take everything with a rather hefty pinch of salt. AI’s capabilities are immense, but in reality they are applied to far more mundane matters (not mundane in our eyes, of course) than controlling our lives or threatening the planet – they are used by organisations to save huge amounts of time and create ways of delivering hitherto unthinkable products or services.
At Fountech, we’re on a mission to debunk the myths surrounding AI. What’s more, as a think tank, consultancy and development firm we’re endlessly looking for ways to educate organisations about how they can seize the benefits of AI – that’s why we’re regularly releasing in-depth white papers, which inform businesses indifferent industries about exactly how they could harness the potential of AI and ML for competitive advantage.
We’ve already released white papers for the legal, insurance, and sales and marketing sectors, which you can download today. Alternatively, why not get in touch with a member of the team to talk about how AI could transform your organisation.