The Future Of Artificial Intelligence (According To Pop Culture)

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

It’s a science fiction writer’s dream - as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins warns: 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.


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.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

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.


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.


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.


Pernicious Gol… Wed, 09/20/2017 - 01:04 Permalink

It will be programmed at first by humans, so there will always be flaws. A closed system can't step out of itself. The point of AI is to do things just good enough for the lazy proles, leaving the really good stuff for the elites.

sickavme Pernicious Gol… Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:07 Permalink

Yea, whatever...The biggest threat to man is man himself... Even with AI, there is a human involved somewhere... Robots/cyberorganisms are just another tool to kill each other with, like drones... Drones started off as just model planes with cameras duck taped to them... Now they have hellfire missiles... But there's still someone at the joystick and always will be.  

In reply to by Pernicious Gol…

Mr 9x19 sickavme Wed, 09/20/2017 - 03:03 Permalink

there can't be is a valise word to mean all and nothing, it is not biological, it is not endowed with sensibility, it has no soul. what common retards call AI,  is only scripts and  algorythms. but only 1 over 10000 understand that algorythms, for example, an autonomous car, do not make mistake. when one crash a schollar bus instead of a walker middle of the street, it is not a mistake, it is only a decision  the car had stated depending on criterias OTHER HUMANS implanted. warning ZH'ers... AI, is only someone else decision.  

In reply to by sickavme

Mr 9x19 BennyBoy Wed, 09/20/2017 - 08:27 Permalink

your joke is way more realistic than some can get it. the downgrading trend of self thinking is at sake, grabing a phone to ask to google how do i fix something is a serious problem to me. people  considering a script can make mistakes just proove how idiots they are and have no clue of what they are using, just like 95% of objects they use daily from a car to electric toothbrush.   

In reply to by BennyBoy

tmosley Mr 9x19 Wed, 09/20/2017 - 08:40 Permalink

>Humans are better at Go and reading facial expressionsAlphaGo is superhuman at playing Go, and imagenet can read facial expressions much better than humans.We stand on the verge of the Singularity. Luckily, there is no need for the peanut gallery to discuss such all important issues as AI ethics, as their opinions hold no sway anywhere outside the comment section. If they did, we would be truly lost. The big issue here is that it is Google that is head and shoulders above everyone else in this field. Deepmind studies human and mammalian brains to gain insight on how to create conscious machines, and they have emulated what I suspect is the most important structure in mammalian brains for the creation of that effect--the claustrum.The problem is the SJW culture that has infected Google. Hopefully it has stayed out of Deepmind itself, and those guys will all quit over the madness taking place there now, and create their own company to produce AGI, without the possibility of being corrupted or put to purposefully malevolent use by the insane communists.Here is a short video posted today discussing some of DeepMind's recent progress:

In reply to by Mr 9x19

malek tmosley Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:51 Permalink

So much bullshit.

Computers have now, with a huge effort in each case, become better than humans in some very specific and limited domains.

"self-improving machine"
That's really funny, because the difficult part is usually -in real-world examples, not chess or go- to explain to the computer what the goal or the best possible outcome is.

People who don't grasp the limits of science and scientific method will however never get that.
The hard part is always to identify what -in the current situation- is irrelevant, and even harder to realize when a change in input data suddenly makes an irrelevant fact become relevant.

In reply to by tmosley

Winston Churchill sickavme Wed, 09/20/2017 - 05:55 Permalink

Not at all. The First primitive drones were developed as anti shipping weapons by the Germans during WWII.TV camera's onboard etc.Launched by long range Condor aircraft and piloted remotely by joystick control onto theirtargets.Too late in the war to make a difference.Whats strange is how long it took to rediscover an old idea already proven.

In reply to by sickavme

TeraByte Pernicious Gol… Wed, 09/20/2017 - 05:04 Permalink

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On the spot especially, when you already so frequently must squabble with an OS that says: Your PC Ran Into A Problem And Needs To Restart. The more complicated software grows the higher incidence of error by programmers and random corruption of files.

In reply to by Pernicious Gol…

squid Wed, 09/20/2017 - 01:28 Permalink

oh dear......Why are arts' graduates soooo gullible?Why? Why are county, state and federal governments full of arts' graduates? There is NO SUCH THING as artificial intelligence, period, paragraph. It's as much a threat as globull warming.A computer is a machine, that's all it is. It's no different than a lawn mower, it's a machine. It is a reconfigurable machine but it's still a machine, a thing, something we build. It is not conscious and never will be and it cannot program itself. A computer running a database program is also, a machine. Again, think lawn mower. It so happens that everything that humans find easy/straight forward to do, computers are all but impossible to make do. Stuff that humans fund difficult to do, computers find easy. What do humans find relatively easy?Recognising things by site,Learning things,Optimising processes and things we already know. What are we lousy at? Computations, particularly reparative ones. And there you u have it. AI is the latest globull warming scam. Squid

monero Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:10 Permalink

Computers becoming exponentially faster over time doesn't automatically mean they become intelligent.  Modern AI is built on probability algorithms and some neural network simulations, but it's not "intelligent" no matter how good it becomes at fooling liberal arts majors (and apparently Elon Musk).

True Blue Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:07 Permalink

They left out the most obvious AI related dystopia. Where machines do all the work ( and the best and brightest remaining minds dedicate their lives to solving hair loss and prolonging erections.The only thing they need to do is teach the machine to interpret a 'hybrid of hillbilly, valley girl, inner city slang and various grunts.'

monero Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:09 Permalink

AI is becoming the excuse of the elites and central bankers for the mass impoverishment of man kind through the corruption of our monetary system."We'll just blame it on automation and give everyone a thing we'll call Universal Basic Income, that way they won't realize we've ruined their once-thriving economy and actually given them communism."

RDouglas Wed, 09/20/2017 - 03:08 Permalink

Oh fuck off. Long before AI takes over, entropy, overpopulation, resource depletion, famine, disease and WAR will have kicked in. In a hundred years, there will be less than 100 million people in all of North America, thinking Machines will be campfire stories.

rphb Wed, 09/20/2017 - 04:05 Permalink

The problem with the illustration above is that Moore's law have broken down. Computers are no longer doubling in power, but have started to plateau due to natural physical constraint.As such computers will never be able to reach human level intelligence and a a artificial general intelligence will never be created as it is simply not physically possible.

koan Wed, 09/20/2017 - 09:26 Permalink

Yes a run away AI could be a bad thing, but it might be even worse to have AI controlled by humans.
Humans are notorious for their contempt of each other and their cruelty.

Just imagine a World with AI controlled markets, cameras, mics, literally every device under the AI's control and then humans calling the shots on what gets done with the data.

AI is a curse either way.

Mr... Robot Wed, 09/20/2017 - 18:25 Permalink

The people who have a bad feeling about this stuff are right. It;s not going to end well. Think this is the distant future? It'll start soon after the reset. Revelation 13He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. 15 He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die. 16 He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.