AIs in the movies

Welcome, one and all, to today’s random post. I was recently contact by the folks over at Enlightened Digital, and given the opportunity to check out a cool infographic that looks at AIs and their appearances throughout the history of cinema. Now, I really love AIs. If you’ve read any of my books, that should be obvious. I mean, one of the most popular characters in The Cassie Tam Files is Bert, Cassie’s pet AI gargoyle. And as for The Spark Form Chronicles, the majority of the story links into whether Carnival, the holographic anthropomorphic wolf/rabbit hybrid AI could be considered to be a living creature or not. So, in short, this was right up my street. Let’s start then by sharing said infographic:

Pretty cool, right? You’ll of course note that there are a lot more AIs out there than those shown here. For one, the whole period of 1985 – 1998 is skipped over. As such, I thought it would be fun to mention a few of my favourite movie AIs that aren’t shown here. Let’s get to it.

Robocop

Robocop

First appearing in the 1987 film of the same name, Robocop is an AI law enforcement officer built partially from the remain of deceased cop Alex J. Murphy. I watched the first two films when I was, in all honesty, far too young to be watching something so violent. The titular character is truly iconic though, with his combination of cybernetic enhancements and the little bits of humanity left to him. If you haven’t seen the original film, check it out. It was once described as a ‘smart film masquerading as a dumb film’, and that’s remarkably apt.

Data Star Trek The Next Generation ST TNG

Data

Though he started out in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data did go on to star in a handful of films. What I’ve always loved about the character was that he not only provided some robotic muscle (both physical and mental), but that his quest to become more human led to so many fun moments. I mean, who couldn’t love the time that he randomly grew a beard? Data was, and remains, just one on of many memorable characters that made ST:TNG the best Trek in my eyes.

major_kusanagi

Motoko Kusanagi

Now, this is an interesting one to include because whether the Major is considered an AI or not really depends on what part of the franchise you’re viewing and how you want to interpret it. The iconic character is, like the aforementioned Robocop, a mix of cybernetic and biological matter, and she even has her own doubts as to her past and to whether she was ever truly human. That struggle is what makes AIs so intriguing to me. How close can we get to creating life?

Johnny 5 Short Circuit

Johnny 5

The star of the Short Circuit films was a mainstay in terms of my childhood entertainment. Yes, I know that the films have some moments that wouldn’t fly in this era, but the character of the robot that gains sentience was thoroughly intriguing to my young mind. That he was such a friendly character despite being designed for war was just another fun layer.

Bishop Alien Aliens

Bishop

Bishop is one of those characters that is so well remembered and for good reason. His appearance in Aliens opened up a lot of stuff, such as the conflict with Ripley (based on her previous experiences with androids), and the idea of self -sacrifice. Lance Henriksen did a fantastic job as the character. He’s also – to my knowledge- the only person to be killed by all three of a Terminator, Yautja/Predator, and Xenomorph.

But what about all of you? Do you have any favourite movie AIs? And don’t forget to check out Enlightened Digital for the full size infographic. They also have another AI article here listing even mroe movie AIs.

6 comments

    1. Thank you kindly. Bishop was an excellent character. He was so different to the AI in the original, and I loved seeing not only the other model of him in Alien3 btu his human counterpart appear in AvP.

  1. Haha…to immediately answer your question: Yes I have: and two are on this list: Bishop and the Major 😊 Bishop for just being plain awesome and certainly one of the most human characters that isn’t human so to speak. And Motoko simply for being my alltime favorite anime character…something I pretty much know will never change 😊

    1. They’re both so iconic, right? There have been an absolute ton of AIs out there though. I do wonder hwo far we’ll eventually be able to push them in the real world too.

  2. I’m always torn on the “AI become human” sort of thing. I mean, if they “want for irrational reasons”, they are basically already sorta human-ish. If they don’t, why would that be their goal? It’s not actually any sort of advantage. But it does make for great stories, so …

    Anyway, for anime I’d maybe add Lain and Nagato Yuki to the list. Although they are a bit different, but, eh, digital entities are kinda very similar to artificial intelligences ^^;

    (my favorite overall are probably from the Andrea Cort novel series, practically all-knowing and all-powerful and utterly terrifying)

    1. I actually considered Nagato Yuki for the list too. Haruhi is one of those odd series that I enjoy when I’m in the right mood but otherwise find a little mixed. Watching Endless Eight in one sitting probably didn’t help. Leon I still need to get hold of.
      The a TV series called Humans that sees some AIs trying to gain a clarification of being alive. I’ve only finished season one, but I kinda felt like they were trying to be human to obtain rights rather than be viewed as machines. In that case, it’d maybe be more of an advantage to be so?
      All powerful and terrifying works well. AIs having control opens plenty of opportunities to produce fear.

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