The father of Cyber-punk, William Gibson once famously commented that the future has already arrived – it just arrives at different times in different places. Isa Willinger’s quietly masterful documentary Hi, A.I. portrays a handful of robots and the people who interact with them, mixed with the voices of AI experts. Part of the movie’s magic is that it seems to be science fiction yet it obviously is not. For good or bad, the future we once imagined is finally arriving – as an age of tolerably intelligent machines.
The autonomous androids coming of age is epitomized by the insecure, yet impressive, first steps of a robot in an Italian lab: the mechanical humanoid seems to keep balance on its own – like a child making its first steps, unaware of the proud parents watching. In contrast to specialized AI, like those in chess programs, these robots have the advantage of being able to learn by interacting with humans in their life-world. This, precisely, may be what it takes for real and general artificial intelligence to develop.
In the film, it becomes very clear there really is no perfect general intelligence, since all the robots have their shortcomings and peculiar talents that come together as their distinctive . . .
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