I bet you don’t think of Artificial Intelligence when you think of the Terminator? I recently watched Terminator 2 on the TV, and looking at it with fresh 21st-century eyes, I can’t help but see “Art imitating Life” or science fiction becoming science reality.
It’s been 40 years since James Cameron first introduced us to the Terminator series. On the surface, it’s a sci-fi movie about time travel, time loops, paradoxes, and cyborgs. What else would a boy of 13 years old want?
But you can look at it for real-world foreshadowing when you get past the time loops, paradoxes, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cheezy 80s one-liners.
Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Decision-Making:
If you recall, the series begins with a war drill where two soldiers are in a Silo and get instructions for what seems to be “real orders” to launch a nuclear missile. One of the soldiers hesitated to turn his key. The scene ends with the other soldier holding a gun to the second soldier’s head.
This scene would be pivotal in Skynet’s development and later enacting.
The whole purpose of Skynet was to remove the possibility of human error by using artificial Intelligence or AI. It would increase the speed and efficiency of military response and control the United States nuclear arsenal.
In the 80s, it wasn’t called AI. They called it an “Advanced Computer System” or a neural network-based artificial consciousness.
Artificial Intelligence Becoming Self-Aware
Ok, this has yet to happen. Robotics and autonomous systems are advancing—everything from a rumba on the small side to self-driving vehicles.
The advancement is made possible by Machine Learning, which is the ability of AI to recognize patterns, learn from the data it gathers, and make decisions based on that data. Artificial Intelligence still doesn’t learn like humans do, making it impossible to be self-aware right now.
Quantum computing can potentially vastly increase the processing power available for Artificial Intelligence applications. This could lead to more complex and capable AI systems but not self-awareness.
Artificial Intelligence – Keeping the genie in the bottle.
Without the ability for artificial Intelligence to become self-aware, at least for the time being, it seems like AI genies will remain in the bottle. But as humans tend to do, it pushes the envelope on science and technology. So, it can become a reality very soon.
While the rest of the story, for now, remains a cautionary tale. Forty years later, I still enjoy watching The Terminator Series. It does make me think.