Lessons to Learn From AI in Movies by Nelson Cicchitto @nelson_avatier #GuestPost #Scifi #Movies

Lessons to Learn From AI in Movies


All movies offer some insight into the mind of the creator. Even the worst movies offer interesting information about their creators and the worlds they came from. The characters in those movies reflect something the movies’ creators believe about people, and that includes AI characters. What can you learn about the world by looking at this ranking of AI in movies?

The Characteristics of Good AI

First off, it’s interesting to look at what makes an AI “good.” Although they’re ascribed to AI and not humans, these characteristics tend to naturally translate into how the creator feels about humans as well. Plus, consistent trends may indicate an overarching societal inclination.

The first grouping of characters involves AI that seem to have the mind of a child. Not only do these AI try to actively learn more about the world around them, but they do so in a charmingly simple manner.

  • Giant – The Iron Giant
  • Max – Flight of the Navigator
  • Johnny 5 – Short Circuit
  • Chappie – Chappie
  • R2-D2 – Star Wars

There’s also a grouping of good AI that involves a more robotic AI seemingly trying to overcome the robotics inherent in their existence. The “goodness” in these AI tends to be connected to their ability to do so.

  • KITT – Knight Rider
  • TARS – Interstellar
  • Robocop – Robocop
  • Data – Star Trek

The Characteristics of Evil AI

On the other side, it’s just as interesting to see what makes an AI seemingly “evil.” What type of characteristics do people interpret as being evil, and how do those characteristics manifest in AI differently from humans?

Some evil AI have superhuman intelligence and a disdain for emotion. These AI feel evil because they make the most “logical” choice, which often involves harming people or even other AI.

  • Borg – Star Trek
  • HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Skynet – The Terminator
  • VIKI – I, Robot
  • Ultron – The Avengers

Certain evil AI seem to play on the opposing concept of some good AI — they have an intrinsic robotic quality, but they aren’t able to overcome it. Rather, their AI characteristics define them.

  • Maria’s Double – Metropolis
  • Ava – Ex Machina
  • Replicants – Blade Runner
  • Agents – The Matrix

The Characteristics of Mixed Morality

In between these two lies a type of AI that has mixed morals. Rather than being exclusively “good” or “bad,” these AI present with a much more complicated set of morals that give them more of a multifaceted personality.

One type of mixed-moral AI involves AI that truly seem human. Not only do these AI seem to show emotion, but they actually utilize those emotions when they make choices, which usually means that they make both good and bad choices.

  • David – AI
  • Samantha – Her
  • Bender – Futurama

On the other hand, you’ll sometimes see mixed-morality characters that simply do the bidding of another person. These tend more toward being essentially animated tools for their creator, so their morality depends entirely on that person’s morality.

  • MU-TH-UR 6000 – Alien
  • Spider Robots – Minority Report
  • Connecticut Housewives – Stepford Wives
  • Droids – Elysium


When you start looking into AI in movies, an interesting trend emerges. Emotion has a lot to do with whether an AI is good or bad, which means people might associate emotion with humanity. People tend to associate morality with the ability to make good choices, and emotion plays a huge part in that. Next time you watch a movie with AI, think about what makes that AI good or bad. You might find something interesting.

Nelson Cicchitto  (Sponsored)


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