Coming to theatres today, Friday, August 17:
DO YOU TRUST THIS COMPUTER?
Regency Village Theater, Westwood (April 2018)
An exploration of the current and potential impact of artificial intelligence on the world.
Chris Paine set himself a difficult task with this project, a kind of “big question” documentary that is more or less impossible to satisfactorily answer in any kind of definitive or comprehensive way. The main reason for that, of course, is that when one is dealing with a technology like AI, much remains purely speculative. While Paine and his experts can point to present day applications of machine learning that could well be argued to be a nascent form of AI, it remains somewhat removed from what most viewers think of when confronted by the concept – something that the doc itself trades in when it uses clips of popular Hollywood films that have shaped our fears around autonomous computer intelligence, from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to THE TERMINATOR franchise and beyond. What results, then, is a series of profiles of a variety of present-day proto-AI, all far too brief to be particularly informative or even properly vetted (such as the championing of the Da Vinci surgical robot, shown in a decidedly less flattering light in Kirby Dick’s THE BLEEDING EDGE), followed by cautions about the seemingly inevitable dark side of the technology, whether through deliberate military weaponization or theoretical machine evolution that sees humanity as something that’s simply in the way. The rapid-fire survey of these viewpoints, set to a frankly irritating score and barrage of stock images, yields some thought-provoking moments, but ultimately feels too unfocused.