pop-culture-ai

The Future of Artificial Intelligence, According to Pop Culture

The unpredictable nature of superintelligent, self-improving machines lends itself quite nicely to the dramatic storylines of movies and books.

It’s a science fiction writer’s dream: if AI becomes smart enough to create more advanced versions of itself, pretty much every outcome is on the table. Machines could empower humanity to become enlightened and virtuous. On the less optimistic side? Machines could instead ruthlessly enslave all of humankind to tickle their own warped sense of satisfaction.

Pop Culture Perspectives

From the plot of movies like The Terminator to The Matrix, pop culture offers up innumerable examples of what could happen from the rise of the machines – and most of them, as you can imagine, steer towards the less optimistic side of the spectrum.

Today’s infographic from BBC Future provides an entertaining take on these scenarios, organized by potential likelihood.

Note: Infographic removed at request of BBC. To see it, click link above – or see our other AI infographic here.

Some experts see AI having a $15.7 trillion impact on our economy, but pop culture offers up a slightly different perspective of what the future may hold.

Future AI Scenarios

Here are just some of the scenarios offered up in mainstream movies, books, and television shows. Some are apocalyptic and dystopian, and some seem just plain bizarre:

Seductive Siris: In 2013’s Her, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an intelligent operating system named Samantha.

Self-Replicating AI: In 1995’s Screamers, scientists create a self-replicating weapon with one purpose: to destroy all life.

The Singularity: AI vies to take over the world in 1982’s classic Tron.

Rampaging Robots: In 1973’s Westworld, recently re-envisioned as a different TV series by HBO, murderous androids go on a killing spree in a futuristic Disney-style theme park.

Feeling Machines: In the 1999 movie Bicentennial Man, a household robot experiences emotions, creative thoughts, and eventually develops sentience.

Androids Among Us: Artificial beings infiltrate society undetected in TV series Battlestar Galactica.

Human Enslavement: In the 1999 movie The Matrix, all life on Earth is an elaborate facade. The robots are really the ones in command, but you wouldn’t know it until you take the “red pill”.

Mind Upload: Digitized humans gain immortality and then wreak havoc, such as in 2014’s Transcendence.

One Certainty

While some of these ideas seem far-fetched, it’s worth noting that not all future scenarios are as distant as they may seem.

With computing power increasing exponentially, the tail end of the hockey stick could happen sooner than we may think.

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