Over the decades, many great science fiction movies about AI and robots have been produced. Often set in dystopian or post-apocalyptic futures, with the AI or robots often portrayed as a dire threat to the human race. These books, comic books, movies, TV shows, and anime have always meant to entertain more than anything else. Still, companies, programmers, or engineers are sometimes inspired by science fiction. Then they make science fiction a science reality.
Because they are still just entertainment and every futuristic device is just a plot device, they also perpetuate many myths. One of the greatest myths perpetuated in science fiction is that AI is like human intelligence. The idea that an AI will be like us, with emotions and personality and maybe even a "soul," is a myth. The idea is very cool and makes for interesting characters, so you can't be blamed for being disappointed. Yes, AI is advancing at an incredible rate and can be even better than humans at many tasks. However, AI is nothing like the human mind.
Now whether or not you think it is a good movie, Minority Report(2002) predicted many technological advancements that we already have. For example, Minority Report predicted widespread video surveillance with facial recognition. Minority Report predicted crime prediction by AI using that surveillance. (OK, yes, and psychic powers) They predicted smart homes with voice controls. They predicted multi-touch screens and personalized advertising too.
Another older piece of predictive fiction was Max Headroom. The TV shows and movies that were very much a product of the 1980s also lived more than 20 minutes into the future. Edison Carter, a TV news reporter has an accident and is presumed dead, so his mind and personality are recreated digitally. This doesn't quite a workout and creates the AI glitch bot character of Max Headroom. It was the first attempt at a "deepfake" in popular science fiction. This cyberpunk classic made so many accurate predictions that they are impossible to list here.
Robocop is another satirical science fiction or cyberpunk classic. Most of what they show is a highly unlikely or impossible myth. However, they did predict the use of deadly police robots and drones. Which we totally have in use in 2023, for better or worse. Robocop also predicted the police extensively using computers, facial recognition and artificial hearts.
The Terminator featured Skynet, many killer robots, and a post-apocalyptic future devastated by nuclear war. While it features many myths, the danger is very real. The Terminator cautions us to be careful about military AI and technology. It somewhat accurately predicts the incredible rate at which AI advances and the dangers of using AI for wars, which in 2023, militaries do use drones, robots and AI to fight. The greatest myth is that AI will become sentient, sapient and turn on us.
Moneyball is a 2011 baseball movie based on a true story. Moneyball showed the value of predictive data analytics. Something that AI is used for an awful lot. Players were data mined, and their statistics analyzed to identify the most undervalued players. Data driven predictions helped predict the best available players and form a winning sports team.
Top 5 Movies that Made (Mostly) Accurate Predictions
- Minority Report
- Max Headroom
- The Terminator
Honorable Mentions and the Importance of Data Annotation
The Grim Game (1919) predicted robots a full year before the word robot was ever used to refer to machines in 1920. Metropolis (1927) made a lot of powerful social commentary on labor and industry. Metropolis also predicted video calling, robots and androids. The movie also showed automated production with humans in unsafe working conditions. Metropolis also predicted alternative energy, human cloning and air travel.
The Net(1995) predicted online identity theft and the ability to order a pizza using the internet. Hackers predicted many things about computing, often unrealistically. Still, as it turns out, RISC computing was their future and our present. They also predicted VR used for gaming in the form of something that looks suspiciously like an Oculus Quest.
There are so many good science fiction and cyberpunk movies that did make accurate predictions. There are a lot of movies that popularized a lot of misconceptions too. When a movie seems to predict the future, it is usually because engineers, scientists, and business people liked those movies too. They saw a good idea and that it was possible, so they made it a reality.
A big part of making any AI reality in 2023 is with machine learning models and data Annotation. For example, Bladerunner 2049 showed us the AI companion brand Replika, and now you can talk to an AI chatbot on your phone from a company called Replika.
Many popular TV shows and movies have predicted self driving cars. If you want to make that a reality you need data annotation for autonomous vehicles to teach your car how to drive. The cellphone was based on the Star Trek communicator. The 3D printer was based in part on Star Trek's replicator.
Fiction does not really predict the future. Rather it helps us conceive of what we want to achieve. These stories inspire us to make cool things. AI, automation, and robots are growing industries. If you want to create an AI product inspired by a movie and a new company, you should learn about our data annotation for startups.