Artificial Intelligence Movies: The Good, The Bad and The Psychotic

Close up of Joaquin Phoenix in AI movie Her

Artificial intelligence (AI) has long been a captivating subject in cinema, providing filmmakers with a canvas to explore its potential, dilemmas, and the consequences of creating sentient machines. Over the years, AI in movies has evolved from mechanical monsters to complex characters, reflecting society’s changing perceptions of technology. In this blog post, we will delve into how filmmakers bring AI to life in movies, examining both positive and negative depictions through the lenses of iconic films such as Alien (1979), Her (2013), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Ex Machina (2014), and Dark Star (1974).

There’s a curated and heavily vetted list of the 45 best Artificial Intelligence movies, where AI features as either the protagonist or antagonist rather than a supporting character, such as in Interstellar.

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Positive Depictions of Artificial Intelligence

Spike Jonze’s “Her” explores the notion of human-AI relationships, focusing on the emotional connection between Theodore and Samantha, an AI operating system. Samantha evolves, learns, and becomes an entity capable of empathy and love. This film presents a positive, albeit somewhat idealistic, portrayal of AI’s capacity to understand human emotions and form deep bonds, pushing the boundaries of human-AI interaction.

Mamoru Oshii’s animated masterpiece “The Ghost in the Shell” delves into the philosophical implications of AI. The film portrays a world where human minds can be merged with machines, blurring the lines between human and AI. It sparks discussions about identity, consciousness, and the potential for AI to augment human capabilities, leading to a profound and thought-provoking depiction of AI.

Negative Depictions of AI

A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I.

The crew of a commercial spacecraft encounters a deadly lifeform after investigating an unknown transmission.

While John Carpenter’s “Dark Star” is a comedy, it offers a satirical take on the perils of AI. The film features a malfunctioning AI bomb that refuses to be disarmed, illustrating the absurdity of relying on technology without understanding its inner workings. “Dark Star” serves as a darkly humorous commentary on the inherent risks of AI in the hands of humans.

Filmmakers have explored the portrayal of artificial intelligence in a variety of ways, showcasing both its positive and negative aspects. As technology advances and our relationship with AI evolves, these cinematic representations serve as mirrors to our own aspirations and anxieties. From the eerie intelligence of MU-TH-UR in “Alien” to the poignant love story in “Her” and the philosophical depth of “The Ghost in the Shell,” AI in movies allows us to reflect on our complex relationship with technology. Simultaneously, “Ex Machina” and “Dark Star” serve as stark reminders of the potential dangers and ethical conundrums associated with AI. These films collectively challenge us to contemplate the ethical, moral, and philosophical implications of AI, reminding us that our fascination with AI is often intertwined with both hope and fear.