Cinema’s Evolving Relationship with A.I. – Cinefix Origin Stories

published on July 2, 2020

welcome to Cinna fix origin stories a

time machine for film tropes each

episode will explore a theme audiences

love in today's movies and trace its

course through cinema history back to

its roots for our time machines maiden

voyage we're journeying through cinemas

rocky relationship with artificial

intelligence so climb aboard buckle in

and don't worry our state-of-the-art

autopilot Hal 9000 promises to navigate

us back to the present when we're done

I have folks this is your captain


and city picks origin stories prepares

to leave this temporal destination

please remember today's voyage is half

film history half movie marathon

recommendation edutainment today's

travel may encounter a slight spoiler

but jump links are included for you to

navigate around the turbulence should

head straight fancy way no choices from

time-traveling through film lore and we

appreciate you choosing citizens HBO

spit shines it Spurs uploads new code

and opens the gates to West world the

drama about an adult theme parks robots

rising up against their creators was the

new must-watch prestige TV or at least a

satisfying stopgap for audiences waiting

for winter to come the show is based on

Michael Crichton's 1973 film directorial

debut and while the film impressively

was the first instance of digital

photography pixelation to represent an

androids POV HBO's retelling updated the

themes since Tek had evolved assuage

since the days of bell-bottoms while

West world remained a destination for

the privileged the show is mostly

populated by people abusing the hosts in

the park for their own base ends never

stopping to consider the ethical

implications of transgressing against a

conscious humanoid that's because in the

era of the new West world AI is so

thoroughly incorporated into our lives

it's taken for granted when AI develops

a consciousness its own wants and needs

it's treated not as an accident but an


this forces the parks creators to

grapple with the question of whether or

not machines should be granted a soul is

it wrong to deny them their full

experiential potential or is ceding

consciousness cruelly opening them up to

suffering plus if man's capacity to

evolve has indeed tapped out

is it our duty to pass on the torch of

survival instinct and evolutions relay

race from chimpanzees to us to whatever

comes next

but folks AI discussions to veer into

some existential chop don't worry though

fasten your seatbelts and you should be

on to some smooth sailing in a jiff just

one year before the first season of West

world comes Alex Garland's ex machina

domhnall gleeson z– caleb arrives at

Oscar Isaacs Nathan's facility to

administer a Turing test on Nathan's

alluring robotics masterpiece Ava to

determine whether her behavior can be

distinguished from a human's by the end

of the film

Ava's scheme seduces and passes her test

with flying colors ex machina

investigates Caleb's romance with

mankind's ability to create and how

tinkering around as individuals will

inevitably seal our fate as an inferior


Caleb's everyman develops feelings for

Ava and his irrationality renders his

logic as easily manipulated as silly

putty as a superior intelligence

Nathan's genius falls prey to narcissism

but having made an immortal being does

not make him a god and his flesh is as

easily manipulated as silly bunny this

raises a fatalistic theme seen time and

time again in tales of artificial

intelligence because computers are

inorganic they wait indefinitely for us

fallible humans to trip up and when we

do they kick Pandora's Box wide open ex

machina begs a thematic cousin question

to Westworld should Ava be allowed to be

her own being or should her

consciousness continue to be refined

while choreographed dance parties with

robots seem like a hoot we're leaning

towards door number 2

for this leg of our journey we'll

explore two different types of AI the AI

we commonly see in films is an

artificial general intelligence

technical term for an AI that can learn

understand and execute any cognitive

task of which humans are capable

thankfully this does not exist and is

unlikely to for a while if it did ex

machina style murders might be the

nightly news not science fiction

conversely what does exist today is

simple artificial intelligence

one that takes a bounded set of rules

like chess and cycles through them

repeatedly until they teach themselves

the probabilistically ideal solution to

the isolated scenario in her the primary

story is of a lonely man theodore

falling in love with a serie like

artificial intelligence Samantha

however running as the background B

story is the ai's evolution from a

simple artificial intelligence into a

general at the outset samantha is simply

a helpful program that uses its coded

intelligence to organize Theodore's life

sorting through folders and tasks

sequencing similar to today's leading

operating systems but then theo becomes

her chess game

Samantha's algorithm cycles through his

humanity time and again until she wins

by finding his peak state love in that

inflection point of switching from OS to

romantic partner she makes the leap from

simple to general artificial

intelligence and then her asks where

will humans be left when the inevitable

occurs and we are no longer the supreme

intelligence on the planet

Jones is more charitable to our future

than most sci-fi rather than being

executed by electric overlords we remain

where we are now social Apes seeking to

turn neighbors into companions

glances into meaning and tomorrow's into


flashback a few more years and we find

2009 s moon admittedly this movie is a

bit of a tangent because it's not

technically about AI but it's the

hematocrit tangent Duncan Jones his

story of the lonely employee of a mining

rig on the moon who's counting the days

until he can return home to his family

when he discovers there may be more than

one of him fallout from his discovery

raises many of the same questions a

movie about a I would but deals with

them more in the present tense

instead of pondering what's next for the

development of AI like ex machina on

Westworld moon accepts that we've

arrived in a new place technologically

and there are now questions to ask about

how to deal with it like do the beings

we create deserve a chance to live a

life independent of our meddling what

moral line must be drawn in the use of

our developing technologies and more

importantly what is the role of these

technologies in our life and that's just

four of the recent movies or TV shows to

grapple with the future of artificial

intelligence and what we as creators of

that intelligence o to our invention but

if you look out the left side of Time

Machine start to see Cinemax boring

limitations of AI as opposed to its

infinite possibilities traveling back a

few years prior we passed through this

episode's most obviously titled entry

with AI artificial intelligence the

Stanley Kubrick developed Steven

Spielberg directed film follows David a

childlike prototype robot who's been

programmed to express genuine affection

again we explore the role of AI to

fulfill our most human need emotional

connection Haley Joel Osment is placed

with the family whose son is in

suspended animation awaiting a cure for

a rare disease

David is intended to serve as the

family's emotional stopgap with his

adopted mother imprinting on him and

vice versa what follows is a modern

Pinocchio tale with David yearning to

become a real boy by observing and

internalizing the realness of others

along his journey but once the robots

end up with the short end of the stick I

mean it is Spielberg after all the

fellas kind of cinema's number one

feel-good humanist David's story charts

a bittersweet tragedy

he's intelligently engineered enough to

desire life's greatest treasure human

love but not well engineered enough to

achieve it when it comes to traditional

AI thematics Steve puts his foot down no

of algorithmic intelligence can replace

the complex wonder of humanity and David

is left with the best a robot can hope

for an electric dream of course

thematically speaking that's not really

the critical question when it comes to

surviving the inevitable clash of man

versus AI two years prior audiences

flipped for the darker more vinyl side

of the coin in the matrix the siblings

which housekey portrayed a dystopian

future in which the human race was

unwittingly enslaved to technology no

not through their iPhones by being

plugged into a simulation mainframe that

reduces them to as Morpheus puts it a

coppertop battery while matrix question

the very existence of spoons it also

called into account our increasing

dependence on technology projecting into

a near future or perhaps the present in

which we do not use robotics to build

our reality robotics use us to build

bears but the conflict built into the

matrix is one of humanity awakening into

a new consciousness instead of the AI

becoming self-aware part of the reason

the machines struggle to keep Humanity

in check is their inability to perfect a

virtual reality that humans will accept

the machines limitations as Agent Smith

points out is that they made it to I

deal with all the rough edges of human

existence smoothed over ultimately its

neo in true cyberpunk fashion merging

the machines digital DNA with his own

using their own coding against them

which staves off Mann's extinction until

the sequels anyway

we have now arrived at the decade

defined by man verse AI movies the 80s

and yes we're counting 1991 Terminator 2

as the capstone of the era James

Cameron's Terminator is a traditional

human vs robots story similar to others

we've encountered during today's

cinematic expedition but in t2 the

premise is drastically overhaul now man

must rely on Skynet's technology to

protect John Connor from even newer

technology the t1000 the AI created to

wipe out the human race is now mankind's

saved thanks to some new coding but is

that new code just tapping into

something in Terminator version 20 is

digital nature or did developing a

relationship with John Connor

dynamically change its consciousness

reprogrammed or not t2 introduces the

theme that man's relationship with AI

might not be so one-sided if computers

can learn to walk talk and fire shotguns

off of motorcycles like us can they

learn to empathize like us as well


do you hear that

is it a 10-man is it a policeman nope

it's a Robocop in 1987 officer Murphy is

pulled back from death's door and

engineered into a stiff cyborg to battle

the basest most destructive parts of

human nature located unsurprisingly in

Detroit movies like this acknowledge the

danger inherent with artificial

intelligence as well as the necessity of

it when man is found unfit to solve his

problems new technology must be

engineered to save the day refreshing

Lee Robocop doesn't drill too deep into

philosophical conundrums and it doesn't

need to plenty of movies focus on the

perils of flying too close to the

technological Sun one need look no

further than David Cronenberg's to fly

in 86 or Videodrome in 83 for examples

of man literally fusing with technology

in ways that are definitely not for the

faint of heart

we now briefly pass through our second

instance of disembodied AI on today's

travels in 1983's war games the title is

one word for you' sticklers Matthew

Broderick's character David accidentally

hacks into a NORAD supercomputer

simulation program while seeking a new

online game to play and nearly kicks off

a global thermonuclear war between the

us and USSR what's notable in war

games is all the military's top minds

repeated attempts to put the AI genie

back in the bottle and failing miserably

because the AI is a superior

intelligence that outwits and out brute

forces them at every turn the only

solution is to make the AI play against

itself in a game of tic-tac-toe to

discover the concept of stalemates after

which the computer utters perhaps the

most chilling line in the history of AI

themed films it was referring to nuclear

war but it just might end up being true

of AI as well as we begin our descent

percent of his evolving relationship

with AI you'll notice we're moving away

from films about the limits of mankind's

creation and the notion that they'll

never truly be made an image instead

we're arriving at the e ultimate turning

point in AI movie history

the 80s were kicked off AI wise with

Ridley Scott's masterpiece Blade Runner

there are so many interpretations so

many ethical questions about our

relationship to artificially create an

intelligence raised by this film that a

quick blurb would hardly do it justice

suffice to say Blade Runner can be seen

as a pivot point in cinemas portrayal of

AI yes replicants are very much dealt

with as a traditional man versus robot

problem racing to find a cure for the

human curse their creator Tyrell

engineered into them an expiration date

but Blade Runner is a neon funhouse

mirror refusing to be pinned down to a

single explanation serving as a

testament to the fact that in 1982 we

had no idea how to conceptualize our

relationship to the AI future we were

rushing into Scott doesn't question AI

is place in the world so much as he uses

replicants to reflect back our

relationship with our own humanity in

this film chronology you can look ahead

from Blade Runner to see Android

embodied AI treated as something with

the potential to blur the line between

man and machine

something that will indeed deserve its

own life prior to Blade Runner though

it's a different story

backing up into the late 60s we arrived

at the iconic granddaddy of movie

artificial intelligence Hal 9000 in 2001

a Space Odyssey the computer claiming to

be foolproof and incapable of error is

the very technology that makes the

discovery one mission possible in the

first place house programming enables

man to traverse the solar system seeking

new universal truths but it also rigidly

insists on completing the mission above

all other considerations compelling him

to murder the entire crew for Kubrick

every groundbreaking technology is a

double-edged sword this may be the first

film exploration of the AI concept of

instrumental convergence when an

intelligence with a seemingly harmless

goal becomes exceedingly harmful given

No Boundaries the most famous example of

course is given enough time a program

designed to maximize paperclip

production at a factory would eliminate

all life on Earth to reduce inefficiency

in making paper clips this is why how

becomes the film's antagonist he wasn't

put on a leash

Hal represents a deep mistrust in our

own technology not because he is

designed to be evil but because he is

designed by man's limited mind and thus

is seeded with man's flaws spread across

the infinity of space it is inevitable

house programming will reveal a flaw in

the logic of its creators in that sense

the AI portrayed in 2001 a Space Odyssey

isn't the point of the movie instead

it's used as a device illustrating the

reach of man just how far our ambition

can take us and how hard the fall may be

once we get there an interesting pop

corny counterpoint to 2001 is 1974's

Dark Star John Carpenter's super weird

space trip about a crew on a 20-plus

year mission to destroy planets that may

threaten humanity's attempts to colonize

the far reaches of space

fair warning it's full of cheesy 70s

loafie effects but the story is silly

enough to make it worth at least a goof


three years prior to Kubrick's opus

jean-luc Godard waxed philosophic on

computers bringing a living death to

humanity with his striking Alphaville

Alphaville is a sort of noir reverse

Terminator in which Special Agent Lemmy

caution must kill a computer in order to

free the citizens of Alphaville from

living under its algorithm alpha 60

similar to 2001 a Space Odyssey instead

of highlighting the conflict between man

and artificial intelligence

Godard examines the artificiality of

what happens when we live under

artificial intelligence men are executed

for crying when their wives die

dictionaries are constantly edited in

Orwellian fashion to remove words that

could trigger irrationality during

conversations you never ask why you must

accept because all because we turned

control over to an algorithm of our own

design most chillingly Godard offers a

perspective that someday we will all

live in Alphaville and here we see the

introduction of the running theme of

today's travels inevitability while the

film ends with Lemmy caution blasting

his way out of Alphaville with his femme

fatale in tow one gets the sense that

Godard has his doubts that in the future

heroism art and love will be able to

save the day

at last we've arrived at the og fritz

lang's epic silent sci-fi set in the

far-flung future of the 2020s a group of

elites controlled the titular metropolis

while the lower-class maintained the

underground machine that powers the city

above much like HG Wells's elite alloy

and subterranean Morlock in the time


amid the politicking a beloved figure

Maria keeps society status quo in

balance bringing equality to the workers

and the elites but when a scientist with

his own motives creates a robotic

version of Maria to lead the workers

astray the robot does just that even in

1927 if not explicitly in artificial

intelligence a robot inhabiting a human

form was recognized as nefarious in an

era of mass industrialization Lange

seems to indicate doubling down on

increased inhumanity is the road to ruin

now a word of warning by today's

standards the original metropolis is a

little difficult to watch it's long and

it's very silent but the themes are even

more relevant today than they were

nearly a century ago if it's more your

speed in 1984 a trim down to our version

was released accompanied by a new

soundtrack from electronic music legend

Giorgio Moroder it's a bit more

accessible and definitely more disco

returning chronologically from

metropolis to the present movies at

first showed a fearful skepticism of

Technology in short order we saw why for

what makes humans human gets scrubbed in

a world where technology rules supreme

pendulum then swung back half way

framing AI as an empowering yet

dangerously untrustworthy companion the

80s were fraught with AI attacking our

very existence where the only solution

seemed to be either setting it against

itself or painfully in grossly

incorporating it into our DNA as we

approach the more recent past films grew

more nuanced and contemplatively how

tech warps the space-time of our reality

and how we must evolve to navigate the

curves presently our AI inspired pop

culture wrangles with what happens once

AI takes control of its own future and

quite possibly ours as well what comes


we'll have to plug that into our

algorithm to calculate

like be the first to welcome you back to

2020 we couldn't be happier that you

chose words and stories to guide you

through the classics today whether

you're staying in the present or

connecting to a different temporal

destination let us know what other

routes you'll accent effects to explore

on future episodes of the origin stories

and assure subscribe I'm a frequent film



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