It’s no secret that the field of artificial intelligence has come a long way in the last decade or so. And it seems inevitable that AI will soon be involved in nearly every aspect of our lives in the near future. And while the upside of AI is very promising, and these advancements could make life a whole lot more comfortable for a large number of people, there are many people that are worried that AI could affect their lives negatively (myself included).
As a freelance writer, I’m just counting down the days until ChatGPT becomes advanced enough to make my profession completely obsolete, forcing me to restart my career in an entirely new field. It’s not a great thing to look forward to.
But, the prospect of me being unemployed pales in comparison to some of the other possible negative consequences of advancements in AI. And many of these doomsday scenarios have been portrayed in Hollywood films. Could AI advance to a point where it no longer has a need to serve humanity and decides to eliminate humans and create an AI-dominated Earth? Could humans become nothing more than organic batteries to power a world ruled by robots? These are all questions that have been posed by certain movies about AI.
So, allow me to sew a seed of distrust in AI by introducing you to the 5 scariest movies about AI that have ever been made. And, perhaps, by the end of this article, you’ll be smashing your computer screen, flushing your iPhone down the toilet, and making plans to move off the grid.
1. The Matrix
You can’t write an article about AI-gone-wrong movies without mentioning the 1999 hit movie The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne. This film has become such a cult classic that many people reference “taking the red pill” as a euphemism for seeing the hidden truth without ever having seen the movie. And, in fact, there are an eccentric few people that believe that The Matrix is actually a documentary rather than a work of fiction. Don’t worry. The Matrix is definitely a work of fiction.
If you’ve never seen the film, the basic idea is that humanity lost a war against sentient robots generations prior. In the current time, humans are being held in containment chambers and being used as organic batteries that power the world for robots. One lesser-known fact about The Matrix is that it was directed by two transgender siblings, commonly referred to by their last names—The Wachowskis.
However, all of the humans are blissfully unaware of this because their minds are engaging in a computer-generated simulation of Earth as it was in 1999 (before the war started). This film is terrifying because it shakes our faith in the very fabric of our existence. And, if you ask Elon Musk, the chances that we’re living in a simulation (the very premise of The Matrix) are pretty high.
2. Ex Machina
In my opinion, the 2014 film Ex Machina deserves to be counted as one of the best sci-fi films of all time and certainly one of the best in the AI subgenre. The phrase “ex machina” comes from the Greek phrase “Deus ex machina,” which means “God from the machine.” And indeed, this film is a cautionary tale about a machine developing a “God complex” and seeking to destroy its human creators.
The movie stars Oscar Isaac as the super-genius CEO of a company called Blue Book (an obvious nod to Facebook) that recruits an employee (played by Domhnall Gleeson) to help him test his new AI at his remote home. Throughout the course of the film, the true and sinister intention of the experiments becomes clear, and the humans are outsmarted by the machines. This film terrifies its audience by asking what would happen if robots developed advanced skills of deception.
3. I, Robot
The 2004 film I, Robot, starring Will Smith, follows the story of Del Spooner, a detective of the Chicago Police Department living in which sentient AI robots serve humanity. Spooner, however, has come to hate these androids after a robot saved him from a car crash while allowing a little girl to die purely based on calculated chances of survival. And Spooner’s suspicions become heightened when a prominent doctor of robotics falls to his death and leaves behind a note requesting that Spooner be assigned to his case.
Without divulging too much, as the film progresses, the robots become increasingly audacious and end up trying to kill Spooner to halt his investigation. Not only is this film full of amazing actions that show Will Smith blasting off robot limbs, but it’s also a warning as to what can happen if humanity becomes too reliant on AI. I, Robot is also a decent buddy-cop movie when it comes down to it, too.
4. Blade Runner
Based on the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, the 1982 film Blade Runner is undoubtedly one of the best films about AI ever made. The movie stars Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, a so-called “blade runner” whose job is to track down humanoid androids who have returned to Earth from one of the colony planets and destroy them.
However, this job is made much more difficult by the fact that these robots (or “replicants”) are indistinguishable from humans in almost every way. In order to make the distinction, Rick Deckard must perform a series of tests that deal with compassion and empathy.
The movie follows Deckard as he attempts to track down a gang of four very lethal replicants and kill them. However, along the way, the lines between right and wrong get foggy, and there are some major twists. This is one of the best sci-fi movies ever made based on one of the best sci-fi books ever written. So, if you’re alright with growing terrified of AI, then Blade Runner is a must-watch.
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Widely considered to be one of the best film directors that humanity has ever produced, any movie with Stanley Kubrick’s name on it is guaranteed to be provocative and memorable. Considered his best work by some, 2001: A Space Odyssey is definitely a movie that requires close attention as it’s full of symbolism and hidden messages. But if you’re willing to sit down and have your mind blown for about 140 minutes, then you should definitely check out this film.
2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Kubrick himself in collaboration with legendary sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke and features a sentient supercomputer character referred to as HAL. At first, HAL is considered to be a dependable (or even beloved) member of the crew of the Discovery spaceship. However, as the film progresses, HAL begins to make small cognitive errors.
Worried that HAL might compromise their mission, the astronauts aboard the Discovery discuss disconnecting HAL. However, HAL is able to read their lips and decides to kill the astronauts. Whether this decision is made out of a will for self-preservation or because of HAL’s directive to carry out his mission at all costs is ambiguous. Regardless, this film is just one more cautionary tale about the dangers of free-thinking robots.
I will watch them to see how they are.