20-year-old Spielberg’s AI: The Best Movie About the Afterlife of Gadgets

Spielberg’s AI: Artificial intelligence gets better with age.

Screenshots of Warner Bros. by Scott Stein / CNET

It’s been 20 years, but I still don’t know what to do with the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence. But I keep reviewing it every year and it always bothers me. I think I know the reason.

The completion of Steven Spielberg, the first idea Stanley Kubrick dreamed of, arrived at the end of June 2001. This was Spielberg’s first film after Saving Private Ryan in 1998. When I lived in the west, I saw it at a movie theater in Los Angeles. I remember the strangeness of the movie washed me away in the dark.

Is AI a commentary on Spielberg’s own childhood wishes come true? A reversal of his movie I saw as a kid? A blend of his rounded emotional spirit and his cynical and dark film about war? I see it because it reminds me many times of the future of gadgets when humanity died.

This movie was beta-tested by a robot kid called David. David was easily adopted and cared for by an employee of the company that created his surrogate child, David, while he had a son. Medically induced coma. Their true child then recovers, the family rejects David, no longer needs him, and even realizes that he is threatening and dangerous … and they abandon him. From there, the movie becomes an odyssey in which a robot boy learns about a cruel and transformed world and seeks to find his maker. It’s Pinocchio, but it’s also about tech companies that have gone too far to achieve perfection. In Jurassic Park, dinosaurs live longer than humans, and you can see where they will go in another 2,000 years.

Spielberg blended with Kubrick is like a strange cocktail. I think Kubrick is a brilliantly cold filmmaker, but the Spielberg film I grew up with leans towards a melodramatic emotional swell. But as I get older, my favorite Spielberg is the cold Spielberg (Munich, Post, Minority Report, Spies Bridge). Even now, 20 years later, the icy tones of AI still feel futuristic. I feel like I’m looking into the unknown world from the door.

Many people hate Spielberg’s AI, which isn’t ranked very high on much of his list so far. One day it’s one of my favorite science fiction movies. But there are bumps. Some moments sound awkward and cheesy (many parts, including the emotional journey of his “parents” and the real people of theme parks like Rouge City). The emotional journey of this movie, which connects fairy tales and gritty cyberpunk, has cracks (some scenes feel too long, others feel fast). The depiction of technology isn’t necessarily out of date (no one has a phone, but an important plot point is a kiosk that acts as a sophisticated search engine. Why everyone Can’t I do this on my device?). An astonishing proportion of movies over two hours seems to be done with an extended ending that moves forward with an intolerable slowness. Still, I’m always riveted.

In addition to Minority reportReleased next summer in 2002, the film represents Spielberg’s dark science fiction phase. AI and minority reports feel like bookends, companion films. AI remains with me forever. And I don’t even mention David’s robot teddy bear companion, or Jude Law’s stunning robot Gigolo Joe, and how those three feel like some kind of profound retelling of The Wizard of Oz. It was.


Warner Bros. Pictures / Screenshot by Scott Stein / CNET

Because it’s about abandoned technology. David is a gadget prototype. He is wondering about his existence and cannot justify the answer. No one can. It’s a story that our perhaps amazing tech toys dream of going to a place that will last for years and decades.Old man Ankikozumos And Jivos, The social networks and gaming platforms I imagine are shattered. Some will remain. Some will be Swiss cheese. Some will be protracted. Some have been reinvented and parts have been tampered with and hacked.

Movies like Wally have dreamed of similar ideas. Like many science fiction novels- Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang and Analy New It’s come to mind, but there are many others.

The cool presence of AI feels like the last twist of a knife as a kid. Spielberg’s 80’s family-friendly movie remains in the first half of AI. However, the feeling is manufactured. David’s placement in the family is an experiment and a compulsory action. It’s cruel and doesn’t consider anything other than the current moment. And like my favorite fiction (Neil Stevenson’s love for accelerating thousands of years at Seven Eves and Anatem, jumping at foundation, Accelerando at Charles Stross), AI jumps too far. To do. The ending is neither strange nor infinite to me. But it suggests a sense of space horror about the future of technology that I had when I saw a small and weird new product with updated firmware, a new AR headset, a small clock, and a toy robot.

Many AIs still seem to have a foresight. Flooded cities and debris from the climate crisis. Undercurrent public distrust of technology, and racism targeting human-centered robots that feed evangelical rallies. Creator of new technology like Steve Jobs who plays God with a gentle belief. And, of course, the idea itself is to feel an emotional connection with the robot.

I don’t know if movies and TV shows have captured artificial intelligence perfectly for me. (Of course, 2001 is good. Ex Machina didn’t surprise me, and I don’t tend to love movies about robots.) Robotics and software are tough areas. But I’m constantly amazed at Haley Joel Osment’s performance in this movie. Only a few years after The Sixth Sense, it annoyed me when I first saw it. Did I care or did I feel a backlash? It now feels like a surprisingly balanced behavior between emotional attraction and alienation. Osment’s waxy face, eerie smile, and need to remain loved are perfect.

AI imagines itself as a dark fairy tale, so I allow illogical conspiracies to change from time to time. When David was alone at the bottom of the sea and praying for miracles, I sometimes shed tears. His wish comes true, but only for a moment. There are also scenes that still surprise me in a cold atmosphere, like David confronting a creator or trying to kill his younger brother. It’s this emotional dance that I’m coming back to.

Or maybe the AI ​​is, in a way, because a nightmare future version of my New Jersey job is commuting to Manhattan. The film will take place in New Jersey and will ruin New York City in the future. We see a robot kid wandering from the suburbs to the center of New York City, where half stands.

As I got older, my view of movies changed. When I lived alone in LA and my career and life were uncertain and wandering, I thought it was about the emotional life of a robot. Later when I became a parent, I saw it as a story about parent-child relationships and consumerism. Would you like to buy a robot? What does it do to my family? Why buy so many technologies? Now I see it as a story about how mankind can’t stop playing God. David’s return to Cybertronics and his entire journey feel like a maneuver. And the subsequent ending of David’s resurrection is set in a world where only “mecha” survived. But these evolved robots do exactly what we used to do. That is, it simulates life and experiments with creativity.

Is David really thinking and feeling, or is it a simulation all the time? Are we participating in the Turing test of the movie? I flip it over in my head. And what is a gadget or creation without its creator? The novella, called “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang, must eventually be abandoned, obsolete, and taken care of as a world created for ever-changing compatibility. I imagined an intelligent work. The AI ​​asks these questions: all old robots are rounded up and models know that sooner or later they will be replaced. This is especially true of a very special robot boy, David, who is unaware of this process.

AI is a flawed vision of the future and may not have been destined to be perfect science fiction. The future is unknown. A few months after the advent of AI, I returned to New York with my family after the attack on September 11. In Spielberg’s film, the Twin Towers still exist in frozen Manhattan 2,000 years from now. I now look at another timeline artifact and remind me how much time has passed since 2001. How much has the world changed?

But in 2021, there is more concern about the climate crisis than ever before. We don’t understand how to resolve our psychological dependence on technology. And tech companies are more than ever trying to cultivate empathy and emotional connections through their products. The basic premise of AI is not old. There is a little dust on the box.

(By the way, if you want to read a great book about real artificial intelligence, Let’s get started By Janel Shane. )

20-year-old Spielberg’s AI: The Best Movie About the Afterlife of Gadgets

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