The Norwegian documentary iHuman explores the current state of artificial intelligence by letting some of the formative people in the business speak more or less freely. Both the people who work on AI, and sees the technology in a positive light, and the sceptics and those wary of it. Together they paint a fairly bleak picture of what is ahead.
The strength of this documentary is that it does not try to hide either side. It lets the people involved speak for themselves. While the end picture may be bleak, it is also complex — there are no easy answers. Neither does the film try to provide any. It does however, give a good overview of the powers that fight for control over this space.
I don’t think I spoil too much when revealing that the research, funding and development of advanced AI is dominated by a handful of extremely powerful companies in cooperation with another handful of shady nation states and their militaries. These may not be the people or organizations we want to dictate the future development of our global society.
All in all there’s no surprises here. All of this is fairly well known to anyone who has paid any attention to the way the tech industry has evolved over the past decades. Still it is a good reminder that we should be sceptical when the most profitable companies in the world claims to have our interest in mind, and that they know what’s best for us.
We should question their motives, their relentless and unregulated collection of data about us, and their power over political processes, both through lobbying and more covert and manipualative ways. The film touches on these questions, but there’s limits to how deep you can go in a mere one and a half hour.
Still it gives a lot of food for thought, and hopefully gives us more of an idea about which questions we should ask.
As one of the subjects in the documentary says: In the end this isn’t a question about technology. It’s a question of what kind of world we want to live in.