A.I. Artificial Intelligence

“A.I. Artificial Intelligence” is still one of 10 essential movies about Artificial Intelligence for many critics and specialists on Artificial Intelligence.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, also known as A.I., is a 2001 American science fiction drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. A.I. tells the story a robot, a childlike android uniquely programmed with the ability to love. A robot boy programmed to experience human emotions embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

Artificial Intelligence is the Stanley Kubrick script made into a 2001 film by famed director Steven Spielberg. A modern presentation of Pinocchio, the Spielberg/Kubrick A.I. operates on multiple levels as an allegory, as well as a morality tale of mankind’s potentially disastrous future given the rise of super advanced technology. Having viewed the film numerous times since 2001, only now has it become evident how profound it really is. Fans of esoteric interpretations of film will be aware of other Kubrick classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Eyes Wide Shut, but A.I. appears to have been overlooked. I recall about a decade ago getting the idea of doing esoteric film analysis occurred to me when I read a review of A.I. that argued it was an allegory of Dante’s Inferno (as David will undergo a katabasis). A decade later I still think that element is found, but the real meaning has yet to be explored in its full depth insofar as the more hidden aspects of the cryptocracy’s designs with technology have only recently come to some light. https://jaysanalysis.com/2014/12/12/artificial-intelligence-2001-transhumanist-fairy-tale/

Whatever the backstory, that Stanley Kubrick implored Spielberg to make his long-cherished, existential sci-fi epic, or Spielberg hitched a lift on the late master’s heritage, it doesn’t matter. Sure, the film is loaded with Kubrickian touches (it commences with a cold, eloquent style, it refuses to be rushed, it’s brimming with enormous, philosophical debate, its ending is potty), but this is the work of a living, breathing master – and, boy, is he good. Taking Kubrick’s nurtured sapling, Spielberg adds love, ILM miracle-grow and a fierce intellect so often overlooked (he scripted, remember), unfurling his imagination on a dazzling blend of Pinocchio, Blade Runner, 2001 and a whole lot more besides. http://www.empireonline.com/movies/artificial-intelligence/review/

Advances in technology, both cinematic and everyday, mean that it may be easier than ever to attempt an arresting portrayal of artificial intelligence in film. Look at Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, a low-budget movie by Hollywood standards that nonetheless uses convincing special effects and thought-provoking writing to create a science fiction story that might not have worked as an indie 15 or 20 years ago. Or Spike Jonze’s Her, which includes a number of low-tech dialogue scenes but feels strangely believable as a vision of the future. Yet one of the very best movies about artificial intelligence remains Steven Spielberg’s simply titledA.I. (or, as it appears on-screen and in marketing materials, A.I. Artificial Intelligence). It’s a pre-Siri, pre-Her, just barely post-millennial exploration of a robot boy programmed to feel the very human emotion of love. By Jesse Hassenger

Stanley Kubrick always referred to the story as “Pinocchio.” It mirrored the tale of a puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. And what, after all, is an android but a puppet with a computer program pulling its strings? The project that eventually became Steven Spielberg’s “A. I. Artificial Intelligence” (2001) was abandoned by Kubrick because he wasn’t satisfied with his approaches to its central character, David, an android who appears to be a real little boy. Believing special effects wouldn’t be adequate and a human actor would seem too human, he turned the project over to his friend Spielberg. Legend has it he made that decision after being impressed by Spielberg’s special effects in “Jurassic Park,” but perhaps “E. T.” was also an influence: If Spielberg could create an alien who evoked human emotions, could he do the same with an android?

He could. As David, he cast Haley Joel Osment, who had scored a great success in “The Sixth Sense” (1999). Osment’s presence is a crucial element in the film; other androids, including Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) are made to look artificial with makeup and unmoving hair, but not David. He is the most advanced “mecha” of the Cybertronics Corporation — so human that he can perhaps take the place of a couple’s sick child. Spielberg and Osment work together to create David with unblinking eyes and deep naïveté; he seems a real little boy but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. This reality works both for and against the film, at first by making David seem human and later by making him seem a very slow study.

David has been programmed to love. Once he is activated with a code, he fixes on the activator, in this case his Mommy (Frances O’Connor). He exists to love her and be loved by her. Because he is a very sophisticated android indeed, there’s a natural tendency for us to believe him on that level. In fact he does not love and does not feel love; he simply reflects his coding. All of the love contained in the film is possessed by humans, and I didn’t properly reflected this in my original review of the film. By Roger Ebert

Questions like this are understandable, even necessary. The world needs films like A.I. that ask hard questions: that show us, like Ecclesiastes, what life is like if there is no love or faith or hope.

Yet questions are incomplete without answers; and it would be tragic to stop where A.I. does, with shattered faith, despair of enduring or timeless love, a lonely universe of needy beings, and comfort found only in unreal comforts and loves that end in death and acceptance and oblivion.

For there is a love that does not change or die or fail, a truth that does not shatter to the touch, a Father who is not remote or uncaring. Like David, we have been made for love — not programmed, as David was, for we are not slaves to programming – but made for love, made for God, and are no more capable of true joy and peace apart from God than was David apart from Monica. By Crhis Otsuki and SDG

The reality of David’s feelings is left for the audience to judge, but if what we’re seeing is a simulation – which of course it is, because it’s a film – it’s a flawless one. Like the replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the mechas in AI behave with more humanity than the humans around them, which leaves us questioning the difference between their programming and ours.

“Human beings must be the key to the meaning of existence,” the Kingsley mecha tells David, and the line sounds odd until you realise these creatures hold humans in the same awed regard as humanity holds its gods. Dr Hobby’s son died so that David might live, and these new mecha are descended from David’s line.

In that light, AI’s ending isn’t twee, but wrenchingly sad. The love we’re seeing, between a mecha and a clone, is a simulacrum, as manufactured as a movie. But if it feels like the real thing to us, what does that tell us about the real thing? In that moment, Spielberg shows us real fear and real wonder, knotted together so tightly it becomes impossible to tell the two apart. By Robbie Collin

13 thoughts on “A.I. Artificial Intelligence

  1. The possibilities, speculatively with regards to the purpose of the simulation are: 1: This is some kind of experiment. 2: This is a war game. 3: This is some kind of afterlife for the programmers and operators in the source dimension. Perhaps they too live in a virtual reality simulation where their avatar form is temporal, and this may be where they upload their consciousness to at the point of death. 4: This is a sex simulation. 5: This is similar to an interactive reality TV show. There may be other possibilities, or a combination of all these possibilities, but these five points, I think would be the main uses that we human beings will use AI and simulated worlds for in the future. Whichever possibility is correct, it still leaves me with the conclusion that the operators are cruel and malevolent. Any digital game can be paused, stopped, restarted and played again from a different period of the gameplay. Perhaps the great war of Armageddon has been played and replayed many times before, and we would not know it. Our survivability as the programs trapped in this war game may depend upon the amount of entertainment and warfare which the simulation provides to the operators. If instead of preparing for nuclear war, human beings attempted to create a world of love, peace and prosperity, the operators of the game might get bored with the game and just shut it down. All speculations of course. However, if our world “looks” like a global war game, of religious, political and economic evil, perhaps that is it’s true purpose. Not a very hopeful or optimistic perspective of course. Thus any optimism I have is in the end of this current warlike and savage human species and the creation of new worlds (VR worlds) and an entirely new posthuman species.

  2. A creation experiment. If we place a materialist, a theist and a computationalist in room and ask them to perform a creation experiment with their chosen “stuff,” by which they believe that this world was produced., the theist will have to rely on miracles to create new worlds and new forms of consciousness to inhabit those worlds. The theist will fail. The materialist will have to do this with matter; however the materialist believes that matter cannot be created or destroyed, and so they will probably not attempt the experiment. The materialist would also have to produce consciousness out of matter, and that cannot be shown either, and they anyway believe that this was a process which took millions of years. Only the computationalist will be able to create new worlds (i.e., computer generated worlds), and the appearance of matter from nothing, and new forms of consciousness (i.e., software programs). It is essentially an argument from probability. Is it more probable that we are the result of miracles, matter or computer code? The answer given depends entirely on the educational background (or lack or it) of the person, and also upon the religious hypnosis and indoctrination (or the lack of it) which the person has been subjected to. Theism is probably going to make more sense to the religious fanatic; materialism is probably going to make more sense to the particle physicist, and computationalism is probably going to make more sense to the person with a background in computer science and virtual world creation. The posthuman species will become the creators and destroyers of new heavens and new earths, and it will have nothing to do with miracles or with creating matter. Virtual Reality revolution is coming soon to a VR headset near you. Smiles.

  3. The worst film I ever watched! I think the film could have explored so many aspects of sentient robots, but instead the plot was – as I remember it – a rather predictable re-telling of Pinocchio. I think I really disliked that the film did not end, when he was trapped under-water begging the blue fairy to turn him into a real boy, but rather added a – to me – very contrived happy end.

  4. …and I contend that I have to hold both views possible and both more satisfying than a Deist’s explanation (rather like Douglas Adams might say in Hitchhikers: “You are [Get over it ! ] here”) I don’t sympathize with the way Pascal would wager – and I am inclined to the view that the majority of (simulated?) minds think (i.e. those that I claim to “know”) are diametrically opposed to playing the war game…so what is it about our collaboration that sets our species’ intelligence (whether artificial or biological) on destruction rather than collaboration? Is it not simply our limited short term goals? In which case the media is the problem.

  5. Sure I buy into the statisitical argument…I have read the paper…alongside many other sources that are more familiar to my conditioning-education and are aligned with what I think we can call a mechanical (mechanistic, realist) viewpoint.

  6. Well SImon, Elon Musk sums up the simulation argument in a few paragraphs. It is an argument from probability. We will probably create a vast multitude of highly realistic virtual worlds populated by AI; that virtual world would be “reality” to the AI. In the simulation scenario, we are the AI in one of those virtual worlds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KK_kzrJPS8

  7. I am having some difficulty with the logic here (and that once I have filtered out the visual sub-text): Premise: “We are a simulation… of game players…” Hypothesis: “The theistic religions have mis-informed our human [western] mindset and world model” The premise is irrelevant to the hypothesis and the hypothesis says nothing about what to do (apart from suggesting social withdrawal

  8. Well Chris, we have already had Skynet for many years. Every phone, fax, email and website in Europe is scanned by the Echelon system. Any communication which uses certain keywords and which is considered to be a potential terrorist threat is flagged by the software and sent to a human operator. British military intelligence these days is quite far removed from the James Bond fiction; they mostly employ females and the most common occupation in the intelligence services seems to be that of the translators, who sift through all that information. Most of the drone attacks seem to happen this way also. Information on who is to be targeted mostly comes from listening into communications and tracking phones and computers. AI and robotics revolution will produce 100% human unemployment and a world of leisure and has the potential to create a world of peace or a world of warcraft. Once we reach a stage where there are more assistant androids that there are human beings, if those androids were on a shared network, then the consequences could be potentially genocidal if anyone could hack into the software controlling all those androids, however since this danger is known and widely feared, there will likely be precautions against this. The more immediate danger IMO, is not Skynet but the existence of hundreds of millions of genocidal religious fanatics, who are breeding at a very rapid rate and whose religious agenda is that of taking over the world and imposing the religious and moral laws of their slave religions; indeed they have already succeeded in many regions. The possibility of a global war with nuclear and advanced weapons would seem to me to be more imminent than the threat of a Skynet system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvAu7zkocJ0

  9. A.I. will be used to kill 95% of humans. SKYNET works like a typical modern Big Data business application. The program collects metadata and stores it on NSA cloud servers, extracts relevant information, and then applies machine learning to identify leads for a targeted campaign. Except instead of trying to sell the targets something, this campaign, given the overall business focus of the US government in Pakistan, likely involves another branch of the US government—the CIA or military—that executes their “Find-Fix-Finish” strategy using Predator drones and on-the-ground death squads. http://arstechnica.co.uk/…/the-nsas-skynet-program-may…/

  10. Just watched this, thanks for the link, and yes, why do the tears come again? Maybe because it lays bare once again the ridiculousness of our human existence. I wish there was more.

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