There are a few motifs that have been prevalent in science fiction/action movies in the past couple decades. These topics include post-apocalypse, such as nuclear warfare or zombies, superheroes, and artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages” (1). In this post I will describe three different examples of artificial intelligence in movies—Terminator, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Wall-E. I chose these three movies because while most movies tend to focus on the fears associated with artificial intelligence, like those fears that come to life in Terminator and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the movie Wall-E shows the good that artificial intelligence can do for the human race and the Earth in general.
Two movies that portray the very negative direction that artificial intelligence has the possibility of heading in a semi-realistic setting are Avengers: Age of Ultron and Terminator. Avengers: Age of Ultron sees the Avengers team of superheroes face off against the robot Ultron. Ultron is a robotic technology developed to help the human race; however, Ultron begins to think that the best way to help the human race is to destroy it. Terminator sees a cyborg sent from the future that tries to kill a mother and her young child. This cyborg, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is sent back by a robotic race that has taken over Earth. The computer program that developed into the robotic race was originally designed to help the human race by being an overarching program that controls all of the world’s technology and weapons. While both of these movies are slightly fantastical, they both are clear representations of people’s fears towards artificial intelligence and technology in general.
One movie that goes against the mold and portrays artificial intelligence in a positive light is Wall-E. In this movie, the robot Wall-E is tasked with cleaning the Earth after the human race has destroyed it due to littering and not respecting the Earth in general. Wall-E has a deep fascination with human culture, and tries to do whatever he can to become slightly more human. He continues to clean the Earth, even though humans have not inhabited the planet for hundreds of years. Instead of a form of artificial intelligence that actively tries to harm humans, Wall-E tries to save them.
In conclusion, the movies Terminator and Avengers: Age of Ultron both demonstrate the fears associated with artificial intelligence. Many people fear that A.I. can become too smart for its own good, and start to eliminate human beings so that the Earth can be safe. However, the movie Wall-E shows the good artificial intelligence has the chance to do, though it is in a fictional world. The main thing the disparity in these movies show is the direction that artificial intelligence has the possibility of heading. It can either help the human race or destroy it. Only time will tell which direction this exciting technology will head.