AI in Popular Film” Essay“

AIin Popular Film&quot Essay’’

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AIin Popular Film&quot Essay’’

Semioticanalysis is a discipline in which symbols and signs are explored. Itinvolves understanding how the use of semiotics depicts particularmeanings in social, cultural and phenomenal contexts. In the threefilms from 1956 to 2013, the viewer can notice the changing portrayalof artificial intelligence informed by technological changes overtime. This essay endeavors to provide a semiotic analysis of theportrayal of artificial intelligence in films.

ForbiddenPlanet (1956)

Themasterpiece of the forbidden planet (1956) that is directed by FredWilcox centers on a destructive supercomputer. The supercomputer hasbeen created with the intention to focus on the knowledge and skillspossessed by the society. The creation is not intended to depict acomplete take over by the AI, but rather the influence machines havein the lives of humans through increased capacities. It was henceonly meant to increase the capacity of people within that societythat was under focus in the film. In the movie, the increasedcapacity of human intelligence informed by the creation ofsupercomputers eventually harms the society that created it. Thisbrings into focus the fact that the human subconscious mind possessesthe powerful capacity to generate ideas that could be destructive ifimplemented unchecked.

Thefilm discourages any efforts to replace the human mind with machines,or even use of devices to increase its capacity. The rationale behindthat is that the person may develop robots or computers that they mayultimately fail to comprehend. In that, there is an unfortunateportrayal of technology especially the computers. The technology istherefore deemed as misleading to the human mind. The ForbiddenPlanet was filmed at the time in history when the use of computertechnology in various sectors, was a source of massive growths ineconomies. However, it also took place during the period of the coldwar and. Therefore, there were fears that the technology could bedestructive if employed in the wars.AI, is therefore portrayed ascausing hopes and fears in equal measure. To eradicate fears broughtby technological advances, Forbidden planet is keen to bring aboutthe real or positive perspective of AI. This comes out in thecharacter of Robby, the robot.

Robbyprovides good company to his masters and is portrayed as faithful. Hehas been programmed in such a way that he has the capacity formeeting all their needs, which includes efficient service andprotection. Although he demonstrates superpowers, he is still withinhuman control and manipulation. This is derived from the fact all hisactions are based on commands from people. He is harmless, which isinformed by nature of his programming. In this, he demonstrates thelaws of robots as articulated by Isaac Asimov. In the laws, a robotshould not harm human through commission or omission of particularacts. Also, it must heed to commands from humans as long they are notcontrary to the law mentioned before. The third law, the robot musthave the capacity to protect its self as long the protection doesn`tcontradict the other laws. In,“ Do We Need Humans? TED Talk RadioHour (podcast)“, debates are emerging on whether artificialintelligence should completely take over all aspects of human lives.People should, however, regulate the way they interact with themachines so that the human touch is not withdrawn. There should be anextent into which devices should be allowed to communicate withhumans.

BladeRunner (1982)

BladeRunner (1982), which is directed by Ridley Scott, has borrowedheavily from a novel by Phillip Dick. The film is based on thefuture, basically around the year 2020.In the movie, a retiredofficer, Deckard is forced back into employment as he is consideredthe most suitable for particular duty. Genetically modified creaturesthat have similar behaviors and features as humans have rebelled inanother planet and he is called upon to look after them and destroythem. It is important to state the creatures were only meant to livefor a limited number of years and had escaped to earth so that theycould prolong their life. Deckard is eventually able to kill all thecreatures except one, Rachael. It is when she becomes his lover thatelements of artificial intelligence emerge. Although she is a replicaof humans, she has all the features of humans even regardingreasoning. It is not easy to distinguish her from real humans basedon simple interaction. To tell that the creature is not human, itmust be subjected to intensive objective tests for long.

Itis a movie dramatic movie in the sense that it makes humans developdoubts about their memory. This is informed by the fact that thereplicas in the film have implanted memories yet exhibits total humancognitive tendencies. From the behavior of the artificial human-likecreatures, an actual person is made develop doubts about his memoryof past experiences and events. The film, therefore, portrays AI asbeing as close as possible to natural intelligence. In fact, Rachaelonly becomes convinced that she is artificial only after Deckardattempts to highlight some of her childhood experiences. Again thatwould beg the question if the real humans could trust their memoriessince the memories could have been induced just like those of thecreatures depicted in the movies. However, it is clear that Rachaelhas a short lifespan in comparison with other humans. This couldprobably make her relationship with Deckard more painful at the endif they manage to escape.

It’stempting to think that Deckard is also artificial considering hisfeelings for Rachael. There is, however, no evidence that this is thecase. From the film, it is clear that technological advances willtake people to levels where distinguishing what is real or not wouldquite daunting. The humans, however, have the option of determiningthe levels of artificial intelligence that they can adopt as theywould still be in charge of programming aspects. Modernity andmaterialism would have a significant role as people devise better andefficient way of earning incomes.


‘Her`,a movie directed by Spike Jonze, a man develops intimate feelings forhis computer operating system. It would be proper to say that hefalls in love with the system. This is typical of modern lifestyleswhere technology has taken over most of the aspects of people`slives. With the emergence of Smartphone and development of socialsites such as Facebook and Twitter, technology would be considered tohave overwhelmingly taken people`s lives. It is clear that people areactually falling in love with phones and computers that continue todemonstrate high levels of capacities.

Expertsin artificial intelligence have made it clear that it just a matterof time before technological innovations occupy all aspects ofpeople`s lives. On learning that her former lover is in arelationship with an operating system, the man is scolded that he hasalways wanted to have a wife without the challenges of dealing withanything real. This goes on to demonstrate how humans have depictedbehaviors that favor dealings with artificial intelligence. The onlyexplanations that artificial intelligence has not taken control ofpeople`s lives are only because people are still in charge ofprogramming the computers. Borrowing from Stephen Marcheal`s article,‘Is Facebook making us lonely`, it is pretty clear that the socialmedia has greatly captured the imagination of the people. The mediahas become ideas and opinion shapers, and there is diminishedreliance on others for information (Marche 32). Wide range ofdeliverables could be achieved through which demonstrates itsusefulness in the globalization era. It is a huge source ofeducative and entertainment source, compelling people to stay awayfor months and even years away from other human associations.

Inconclusion, the theme of AI is highly depicted in the three filmsunder focus. The technological terrain depicts the future functionsof AI IN THE LIVES OF HUMANS. In the ‘Blade Runner`, for example,real human falls in love with a human replica which highlights levelsto which AI will capture the ways of life in future. It is not onlyartificial beings that would win the intimacy of the people asdepicted when Spike Jonze falls in love with a computer operatingsystem. Its clear AI is set to transform the way all aspects of humanendeavors.


Marche, Stephen.’’IsFacebook Making Us Lonely’’?The Atlanta monthly, May 2012

NPR Weekend Edition’s “ExpertsPetition to Keep Computers on Humanity’s Side

TED Talk Radio Hour (podcast)“Do We Need Humans?”