We Need to Talk About A.I – Film Review

 

We Need To Talk About AGI

Artificial intelligence is already here. In recent years we’ve seen rogue Twitter bots become racist and crazed, two AIs create their own language while talking to each other and super computers become chess and jeopardy champions. What feel like science fiction plots have become much more closely aligned with reality. What happens then when we take that next step and create AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)?

We Need to Talk About A.I is a thought provoking documentary about the future of AI, producing a balanced perspective on the subject of Artifical Intelligence and the ethical questions that brings with it. Beginning with a brief introduction on the topic and Hollywood’s sensationalized perception of this back in the 50’s, this documentary then cycles through several different interesting topics including robot rights, what happens during the “singularity” (the exact moment where AI overtakes our intellect) and who controls this AGI entity when it does arrive.

The actual content itself is pretty interesting, with talking head segments gathering experts from both sides of the argument to weigh up the pros and cons of the questions being presented. These questions are handled by the exaggerated narration of Keir Dullea, the man who played Dave Bowman in 2001: A Space Odysey.

This is worth remembering because Keir wastes little time reminding us of Stanley Kubrick’s film, which is brought up a fair amount of times throughout to hammer home how ruthless HAL 9000 was. While this in itself is okay, the final shots even show Keir Dullea himself and it sometimes feels like a bit of a self-promotional piece to rush out and watch Kubrick’s film.

It’s a shame too because beyond this there’s actually some really good content but it’s drowned out by an almost parodical narration that (alongside bringing up 2001 a lot), unnecessarily sensationalizes the different topics being discussed.

It doesn’t help either that the different news cutaways feel heavily geared toward Fox News which only reinforces the narration bordering on the fear-mongering and sensationalism. Thankfully there’s actually some care put into making sure that isn’t the case and peppered between this are some decent news segments from around the world which help to balance this out.

Where We Need to Talk About A.I thrives is when it lets its experts duel it out in separate interviews. While discussing whether AI will overtake us and potentially kill humanity there’s some lovely back and forth segments that swing between incredulous scientists writing it off as sci-fi nonsense and others in the field warning against this behaviour given how dangerous and unpredictable it is. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall, there’s no denying our new digitalized world has changed the very nature of how we interact with machines.

This brings us to the two topics that really could have done with being explored in more detail. The idea of us merging with machines is touched on briefly but never in enough detail to really get you thinking. The inclusion of Baby X is an absolutely fascinating inclusion too and while this AI is still in its infancy (no pun intended), the implications for the future are massive.

Whether it’s here to help us or eradicate us, artificial intelligence is here to stay and the next natural extension to that will presumably be AGI, which is becoming an ever-realistic scenario in our future. Whether we’ll see this come to fruition in our lifetime remains to be seen but We Need to Talk About A.I has some decent material but I can’t help but feel it could have dived in a bit deeper on some of these ideas. There’s enough here to whet your appetite but not quite enough to fill your stomach and leave you wholly satisfied.

 


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