Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Barrat, Rana El Kaliouby, David Ferrucci, Christine Fox, Sean Gourley, Hannes Grassegger, Brian Herman, Eric Horvitz, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Enrique Jacome, Jerry Kaplan, Michal Kosinski, Raymond Kurzweil, Hod Lipson, John Markoff, Elon Musk, Andrew Ng, Jonathan Nolan, D. Scott Phoenix, Stuart J. Russell, Peter Singer, Max Tegmark, Sebastian Thrun, Tim Urban, Justin Wisz, Shivon Zilis
Written by: Mark Monroe
Directed by: Chris Paine
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 78
Date: 08/17/2018

Do You Trust this Computer? (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

From the Laptop Down

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

On the subject of the potentially scary downside of artificial intelligence, this documentary covers a wide array of examples, none particularly in depth, but with enough ingenuity to cause alarm.

In Do You Trust this Computer? several experts discuss the wide-ranging effects of artificial intelligence, and the possible downsides to its meteoric rise. Google, for example, no longer simply provides search results. It catalogues each user's searches and guesses their preferences. Computers today are used in war and in medicine, and computers have even beaten humans at complicated games like Chess and Go.

The doc discusses AI's involvement in Facebook and "fake news" feeds, and its possible involvement in elections. One interviewee warns that AI could become something like an immortal dictator, from under which we can never escape. Another warns that we're a slave to the technology, "because we can't go back."

Director Chris Paine, of 2006's doc Who Killed the Electric Car?, jumps back and forth between an array of experts, including Elon Musk, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times technology journalist John Markoff, and filmmaker Jonathan Nolan, landing on different moments of wonder and horror. Robots do incredible things, but quickly surpass what they were intended to do; the picture occasionally twitches and glitches out to illustrate how scary these things are.

A machine that helps a doctor with routine surgeries seems amazing until the doctor admits that he can't even remember how to do the surgery himself. A lifelike robot seems amazing until it suddenly seems creepy. The movie includes a wealth of footage from movies that warned us of computers taking over the world, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator 2, The Matrix, and Ex Machina, to underline its point.

It's all quite frightening, almost gleefully so, but the movie only offers fear and warnings. It does not offer solutions, nor does it offer any kind of positive upswing. If you see this movie and the machines do eventually take over, your only satisfaction is a spirited "I told you so."{subid}&url=hitlist.asp?searchfield=marvel
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