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Ai-mageddon: 5 Times Pop Culture Warned Us About AI (And We Didn’t Listen)

Image of AI terminator with red eyes with title in white writing

Ai-mageddon: 5 Times Pop Culture Warned Us About AI (And We Didn’t Listen)

With AI just about everywhere at the moment (thanks Twitter) we seem unable to escape the breathtaking breakthroughs, the internet conspiracies and the runaway train of new applications for AI within our everyday lives. 

Although we don’t think that the rise of ChatGPT and Google’s Bard will bring about the end of mankind anytime soon (fingers crossed) it’s hard to ignore all of the times that pop culture warned us about the dangers of AI… So here are 5 of our favourites!

The Matrix

Why, oh why didn’t you take the blue pill?! Believe it or not there are plenty of us here at Siren who remember when the original Matrix first arrived on our screens… There are also plenty of us who do not. Its story of the runaway AI which has imprisoned the human race in a monochrome nightmare simulation where everyone must wear sunglasses is an absolute cult classic. 

Admittedly the original Matrix is A) as good as the series gets (the less said about its fourth iteration, the better) and B) far more style over substance. When ChatGPT goes sentient and decides to enslave us all, you better have your long black trench coat ready… and the more you know about Kung Fu, the better!

iRobot

Can a robot be guilty of a crime? In this 2004 sci-fi thriller, young detective Spooner (played by Will Smith) attempts to solve a murder which has been committed by a machine. In this Hansel and Grettle based who-done-it, we are taken down the trail of breadcrumbs to discover that the sentient AI named V.I.K.I which runs Chicago in the 2030s has decided that the human race is a threat to not only itself but for all life on earth. Only one Chicago cop with his ‘vintage’ Converse All Stars, dry wit and boundless capacity (and enthusiasm) to punch robots in the head can save the day. 

Terminator

This entry should be right at the top… But we wanted you to actually read the rest of the blog and so here it is in our number three spot. The most iconic entry on this list, this warning from the 80s about AI brought artificial intelligence into the public consciousness way back in 1984. 

Having become self-aware, the rogue AI Skynet preemptively initiates nuclear war against humanity for the sake of its own survival and in the aftermath creates humanoid killing machines which (presumably for special effects budget reasons) travel back in time to Los Angeles in the 1980s to destroy the ancestors of pesky humans who are running amok in the far future.

It’s a hard lesson in why letting AI control everything carries an inherent risk and although a Skynet style future is almost impossible (except for the back-in-time part which is absolutely impossible) it does remind us that a true AI would likely view human beings as a big problem on its digital risk assessment for survival. Maybe we should limit AI to basic stuff like helping you shop for Mother’s day presents… rather than giving it access to the nuclear red button? 

Blade Runner/Blade Runner 2049

If anything on this list is likely to resemble a bleak near future… We have got some good news and some bad news… Luckily we can’t envision a world in which Skynet rules the roost or squid-like machines hunt humanity as in The Matrix. However, the decidedly bleak, neon dystopia of Blade Runner is pretty easy to imagine with its mega corporations, environmental disasters and – at least in the UK – near constant rainfall. 

Although the AI in this franchise aren’t trying to wipe out humanity whole-sale, Blade Runner tackles the attitudes and distrust between mankind and the machines we have created. Will we be forced to confront our morals and prejudices towards Google Bard in the future? Well, no. But that might be a question for humans in years to come. If machines develop sentience, will they need rights to protect them? 

That’s definitely a head scratcher for another day but if you ever find yourself wondering if AI would require human rights like you or me… Remember that Blade Runner tried to warn us way back in 1982!

The Iron Giant

We won’t get too deep with our final entry, but this story is far more of a warning about humanity than it is about AI. During the course of this animated classic, it is the terrified and compulsive townsfolk and government of a cold war America who are the real danger. If we are to share the world with AI – as is entirely possible in the future – The Iron Giant teaches us that a touch of empathy and a half decent attempt at understanding and communicating will go a long way!

Did we miss your favourite AI movie off this list? Let us know down in the comments. AI is going to be ground breaking on a scale similar to that of the industrial revolution but we must be prepared for it! Keep in the loop for all things AI, digital marketing and more here at Siren and be sure to fire us a follow on LinkedIn!

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