In our ongoing series on Artificial Intelligence, we talk about Smartphone AI: Artificial Intelligence and Popular Culture and its effect on our beliefs regarding (AI) and society. We also discuss movies and popular culture’s effect on our thoughts in general.
Artificial Intelligence Based Movies
When we think of artificial intelligence, it is impossible not to think of various science fiction Movies from popular culture. Hollywood has brought us movie franchises like Terminator, The Matrix, Star Trek, and Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Big budget outings in which artificial intelligence, in some cases, became self-aware, decided humans were a threat and sought to eradicate us! Steven Spielberg’s 2001 classic A.I. Artificial Intelligence took a different approach.
It taught us to be responsible for artificial intelligence. The story deals with a robot child believing it had real human parents and becoming distraught after being abandoned by them. It is undoubtedly a thought-provoking film.
Artificial Intelligence and popular culture affected us our whole lives. It was also fun and interesting, growing up watching so many artificial intelligence types on Star Trek’s many different levels. The original talking Computer on the original Star Trek Enterprise through Lt. Commander Data, to the Star Trek Voyager’s EMH Artificial Intelligence Doctor, ultimately named Joe.
I can say without a doubt that Star Trek was a huge influence on me and my interest in all things technology. If I saw it, I always believed that it is possible as I still do today. Many scenes still go through my head from different Star Trek movies or tv shows that were the precursor to exactly what you see today in technological advances in our society.
We also must not forget the Borg’s cybernetic beings with their terrifying Cube ship and “Resistance is Futile” and “You will be assimilated.” On some levels, it seems very similar (In a good way?) to what Elon Musk is doing with his Neuralink brain interface. It will be the first neural implant that will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go.
Micron-scale threads are inserted into areas of the brain that control movement. Each thread contains electrodes and connects them to an implant in your brain that will let you connect to an App via Bluetooth.
Artificial Intelligence Based Television
Even TV shows have dealt with artificial intelligence’s ramifications and some of the ethical and practical issues associated with its advancement. Like Terminator, The Matrix, and Star Trek, HBO’s Westworld, based on the 1973 film of the same name, also takes place during a robot uprising, but this time it does not shy away from the thought-provoking themes of Spielberg’s A.I. touched upon.
In this adaptation, the inventor of the artificial intelligence played wonderfully by Anthony Hopkins, realizes that he has inadvertently created a new form of life and then subjected it to slavery at the hands of humans. He resolves to set his creations free in a series of events that lead to Westworld hosts turning on the guests to pursue freedom.
If you like AI, then please visit our other articles, “What Are Some Applications Of Applied Artificial Intelligence?” and “Can Smartphones Utilize Cognitive Simulation?”
Artificial Intelligence Based Video Games
Even videogames have explored AI and what it could look like in the future. Games like Fallout, Mass Effect, and Nier: Automata have explored robot uprisings and humanity coming to terms with their creations.
Deciding if A.I’s are worthy of rights in the same way people are. Arguments such as, if an electronic life form that has been designed, engineered, and created, are they still a life form? These are the common ideas that are delved into.
The horror game Soma dealt with this in a profound, poignant, and original way by proposing life may be classified as an individual’s consciousness. The thing’ that makes up their memories, personality, and experiences.
If that same consciousness were to be placed inside an artificial body, would that person continue to live, or would we now consider them A.I?
Science Fiction Meets Reality
It is all very provocative and fun to explore, but that is the thing about science fiction. No matter how much it has been influenced by science and reality, it is still fiction at the end of the day and has come from some creative person’s (or people’s) imagination.
However, while we are on the subject of video game AI and reality, did you know that Microsoft’s artificial intelligence assistant Cortana is based on an AI from the video game series Halo? Microsoft also owns the rights to Halo, allowing them to use Cortana for multiple endeavors.
In the game, she assists the protagonist, Master Chief (or John 117), as his personal AI helper in his struggle against malevolent aliens, but over time Cortana herself becomes self-aware and considers wiping out both humans and the aliens to end the conflict; for the good of the universe, then pursue her own agenda. But luckily, she realizes that, as humanity, she’s capable of compassion after having this programmed into her by her creators and is also capable of friendship, evidenced by her partnership with Master Chief. So she resolves to help him once again, overcoming her crisis of self.
Now, of course, this version of Cortana is wholly fictional, and our Windows PC virtual assistant of the same name is unlikely to suffer the same internal crisis while helping us with our music playlists. Still, it is a fun connection that many PC users may not be aware of.
The voice actress who plays Cortana in the video games, Jen Taylor, also provides Cortana’s voice as a personal assistant across a range of smartphones and other Windows devices. Oh, and by the way, Microsoft is phasing out some aspects of Cortona.
The Rise Of The Virtual Assistant
Of course, it’s through those personal assistants that the public may have had their first taste of artificial intelligence. We have talked about this in many articles like Smartphone AI: Apple’s Siri. Science fiction and popular culture have conditioned us into believing that artificial intelligence needs to be some form of intelligent yet artificial personality. Something that we can seemingly interact within our daily lives. A disembodied voice capable of thought can potentially be our novel little buddy but one that never actually outthinks or outsmarts us.
Cortana is one of these virtual assistants, and so is Siri, something iPhone users have had for nearly a decade. Virtual assistants have really taken off in recent years thanks to the Amazon Alexa (Echo) and Google Home Hub. These virtual assistants seem much more advanced than Siri and Cortana in many ways, but really are just an extension of the same principle.
To be sure, these programs, be they on our smartphones, computers, or from other devices, are indeed useful and are being improved and updated all the time. But the truth is they aren’t really artificial intelligence. We think they are because they emulate the artificial intelligence we see in the movies, games, and TV programs.
Virtual Assistants in Artificial Intelligence and Popular Culture
In truth, most artificial intelligence isn’t a personality or virtual assistant, but an algorithm that works in the background, thinking, and using code to come to complicated conclusions about certain things. Has artificial intelligence and virtual assistants affected popular culture?
Most people don’t really consider what basic artificial intelligence such as Cortana, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant is. Some may think they are currently just glorified search engines that use a voice to take commands and provide answers back to us. No, real artificial intelligence is, in fact, something very different and much more interesting.
Even though Siri and Cortana may not seem as good as Google Assistant, they both use natural language generation and processing and machine learning types of artificial intelligence at the core of their programming.
Artificial Intelligence Rights Advocates Sentient Beings
Many Artificial Intelligence rights advocates are utilizing human thought controls based on feelings. The concept of Artificial Intelligence rights is already being considered. If a robot has Artificial Super Intelligence and has proceeded to rival humans in their appearance and behavior as shown in the movies is it alive? Are humanoid robots with Artificial Super Intelligence Sentient Beings? We will soon find out.
Your smartphone computing capacity today rivals supercomputers of the past and Apple says their new A14 Bionic chip is as fast as some laptops. So items that were once inanimate objects like your oven with the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) makes that now a Smart Oven appliance that may speak to you. Likely connected to the cloud and a larger network of artificial intelligence learning your preferences and identity.
When base computers in the future are doing yottaFLOPS as today’s Supercomputers are doing petaFlops or we have Quantum Computing fully realized. It will be a much different world with research from companies like Google Deepmind and the capacities of artificial intelligence far beyond our concepts of today.
What Is Artificial Intelligence Really?
Let’s be honest about Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assitant. They are easy to confuse if we want to confuse them. Ask them how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, and they will provide a stock answer designed to amuse us. I just asked Alexa, who sarcastically suggested a “Woodchuck might chuck wood as a defense mechanism,” while Siri flat out asked me if I had nothing better to do than ask her stupid questions.
However, ask them if there’s evidence of life on Mars, and they will either quote something from Wikipedia or a recent news report. But that’s all they are really doing, fetching information someone else has already made available. Deep-learning artificial intelligence, combined with smartphone technology, is far more sophisticated but not overtly visible.
The main feature that differentiates real artificial intelligence from a glorified voice search engine is its ability to learn. Actual artificial intelligence is not an app or a novel feature we can use to look up nearby restaurants; it’s built into the very makeup of the smartphone’s and computer hardware and enabled by its software.
It’s something that’s designed to learn about the user to help the device and the platforms it hosts, to make the user’s experience tailor-made for them and improve said experience constantly.
Artificial Intelligence Data Natural Language Processing And Machine Learning
A computer or smartphone user’s habits are constantly feeding artificial intelligence data on how to be better for the user. Monitoring trends and patterns then seeing what information can be gleaned from them by Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. Then presenting this back to the user in subtle but useful ways that can help them over time.
Nearly everyone owns a computer or smartphone today, and this usage of artificial intelligence is actually nothing new. It’s been going on in the background for several years. But as computers and smartphones have advanced, so has this technology. As advancements are made in artificial intelligence in a broader sense, this will translate over to the data processing industry.
This same technology is also used in laptops, tablets, and even through various apps and programs that we use in our daily life, like the Internet of Things (IoT) in your refrigerator. Even streaming services like Netflix which is a huge contributor to current Popular Culture in their own right use certain algorithms based on this technology to help guide their viewers to similar programming they might enjoy based on their previous viewing habits.
Almost everything you are using with a microprocessor and Artificial Intelligence is recording every bit of information about you that it can.
Concerns With Smartphone AI and Privacy
To some people, this all may sound slightly Orwellian, i.e., Big Brother is watching you. Such concerns are not without merit because it is true. This technology is absolutely the same kind of thing advertisers use to learn more about consumers.
Ever Googled something then seen an advert for it on Facebook sometime later? This isn’t a coincidence, but it’s also not a big corporate or government conspiracy either. It is the business of artificial intelligence, trying to figure out what you want and finds a way to give it to you.
It is also the AI giving the information back to the business who wants to know all it can about you. Much of which is sold to the highest bidder.
Artificial Intelligence and Popular Culture with Targeted Advertising
While yes, these artificial intelligence’s have been created by engineers, scientists, and corporations, much of which is Targeted Advertising. The underlying goal is profit. It’s important to remember we are a society based on consumerism. But that doesn’t mean our phones are trying to manipulate or coax us into doing or buying something we don’t want. We all still have free will, and anything we choose to purchase is exactly that, a choice.
We still have some power in this relationship, but it is work and intensive study to stop it other than opting out of everything on your Smartphone. Google’s job is to know everything about you.
Some people have argued they feel uncomfortable with their phones spying on them, but that’s not exactly what’s going on. There are also plenty of steps a user can take to minimize what data they share. Signing out of social media, declining share data agreements, and various other Smartphone Privacy Settings exist to help us escape this.
Smartphone Artificial Intelligence and Popular Culture Created to Help The Company Who Made It
Smartphone artificial intelligence is programmed to help us as well as the company that made it. It’s actually working overtime to try and please us in as many ways as possible; without sharing at least some of that data with those who program it, it may struggle to do this effectively.
One thing we can say, though, if our smartphone or computer’s built-in artificial intelligence is so committed to trying to learn everything about us, then at least we don’t need to worry about a Google-led robot uprising anytime soon, do we? Hey, wait, that gives me another idea for a movie!!