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21 Movies That Foreshadow the Delightfully Terrifying World of Artificial Intelligence

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Throughout movie history, directors, movie producers and screenwriters have been obsessed with the idea that technology will one day turn around and decide that it’s actually a lot bigger, a lot better, and eminently more fit for survival than we as mere mortals could ever be.

And to celebrate more than four decades of impossibly-possible, ahead-of-our-time, and sometimes even rogue machines taking over and attempting to destroy our world, we have compiled a list of 21 films, listed chronologically, where an almighty ‘supercomputer’ or artificial intelligence – ironically created by us humans – takes a turn for the worse. For better or worse, might these adaptations foreshadow our inexorable future? Maybe.

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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

HAL is a form of technology set to control the ship and life support for the human explorers in search of a monolith on the moon. In hope of stopping human evolution HAL tries to kill the explorers and the humans must shut him down.
IMDb Rating – 8.3

 

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2. The Forbin Project (1970)

Forbin creates a supercomputer that will control all America’s nuclear defenses. Once turned on it detects the Guardian (a soviet counterpart). Both computers insist on being linked where they become Colossus. Together they then conclude humans to be inferior to machines and threaten to launch all nuclear weapons if they are disconnected.
IMDb Rating – 7.2

 

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3. Westworld (1973)

An artificial Western theme park where the rich go to play with fake guns and can kill androids that are created to look remarkably like humans. Hell descends when rogue robots go awry and threaten the safety of the guests who willingly pay $1,000 dollars for a single day’s adventure.
IMDb Rating – 7.1

 

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4. Logan’s Run (1976)

An omnipotent computer controls a city where people are only permitted to live to the age of 30. They are then given the option to sacrifice themselves in a ritual with the promise of reincarnation to a better life, or to run. The runners however are chased and killed anyway. This is until the revolt begins…
IMDb Rating – 6.8

 

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5. Demon Seed (1977)

Scientist Alex Harris, doing research on A.I., is working on a special kind of computer. This computer grows more and more powerful and eventually impregnates the scientist’s wife, against her will, in aim of his offspring dominating the world. (Possibly the creepiest in the list but still attains a rating of above 6)
IMDb Rating – 6.3

 

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6. TRON (1982)

Flynn hacks into ENCOM’s mainframe computer hoping to find evidence of his co-worker, Dillinger, stealing five of his video games. The Master Control Program within the computer foils his plans converting Flynn into game material and sending him into the game. He must then compete in gladiatorial games, with the aid of his own creation TRON, to defeat the MCP.
IMDb Rating – 6.8

 

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7. Christine (1983)

High school nerd Arnie falls in love with and restores an old Plymouth Fury and names it Christine. Christine seems to bring about an odd change in Arnie and both are ready to destroy anyone or anything that stands in their way or being together.
IMDb Rating – 6.6
IMDb Rating – 8.3

 

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8. WarGames (1983)

High school student David Lightman unwittingly hacks into a government supercomputer which controls the country’s nuclear responses. After challenging it to a game of ‘America Vs Russia’ he sets it to activate a nuclear response that can’t be shut down. Well done David.
IMDb Rating – 7.1

 

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9. The Terminator (1984)

Skynet (a machine created by humans) is fighting a losing battle against the people it tried to exterminate. The machine then cleverly sends the ‘terminator’ back in time kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance. Only one soldier is sent back to protect her.
IMDb Rating – 8.1

 

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10. Maximum Overdrive (1986)

In 1986 the tail of a rogue comet travels through Earth’s atmosphere. All the machines on Earth subsequently come to life and aim to destroy all human life. Why? We’re not sure.
IMDb Rating – 5.4

 

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11. The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Although Jobe technically isn’t a machine, he is a retarded (their description not ours) gardener given artificial scientific intelligence enhancements. His newfound abilities unsurprisingly go to his head and he subsequently sees himself as a God, proceeding to kill everyone who has ever wronged him.
IMDb Rating – 5.4

 

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12. The Matrix (1999)

Neo lives a double life. By day a computer programmer and by night he and Morpheus fight a race of cyber intelligence that are harvesting human bioelectric and heat energy and fulfill their electric needs.
IMDb Rating – 8.7

 

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13. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

David is the first “mechanical” (mecha) created to have feelings. After a life of pain he awakens after an ice age to a world where only mechas are alive and all humans have died. Although the machines in this film didn’t intend to take over the world they did. Through no fault of their own they simply outlived the humans.
IMDb Rating – 7.1

 

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14. Resident Evil (2002)

A biological virus is leaked in a underground lab where staff are turned into man eating zombies. The Military and Alice (a former employee) must shut down the A.I. supercomputer known as The Red Queen and defeat the zombies in order to stop the virus from infecting the rest of the world.
IMDb Rating – 6.7

 

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15. I, Robot (2004)

Set in 2035, Robots, created by the company USR, are set to fill public service positions across the world. However when V.I.K.I. (USR’s supercomputer) becomes overly conscious of human safety, using the robots she tries to enslave the human population.
IMDb Rating – 7.1

 

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16. Stealth (2005)

The Navy develops an unmanned war plane piloted by A.I. When the plane develops and mind of its own, the humans must try to stop it from starting WW3.
IMDb Rating – 5.0

 

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17. Eagle Eye (2008)

ARIA is a machine that ropes a young man and single mother into its plot to carry out possible terrorist attacks. The government and the couple have no idea who or what it is, or how to stop it.
IMDb Rating – 6.6

 

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18. WALL-E (2008)

Humans are living on a ship named the Axiom while robots clean up Earth after it is deemed uninhabitable. When two robots WALL-E and EVE find a plant on Earth and bring it to the ship (proving there is chance of life) AUTO (the supercomputer) tries to get rid of the plant and stop the return to earth as this would end his reign of control over the humans. The ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was the basis for this Disney film, as both follow the need for human evolution and how the computers wish to nip that in the bud.
IMDb Rating – 8.4

 

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19. TRON: Legacy (2010)

The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father’s corrupted creation and a unique ally who was born inside the digital world. A follow on from the original 1982 TRON film.
IMDb Rating – 6.8

 

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20. Ex Machina (2015)

Ava is an A.I. created by Nathan (CEO of a programming company). Ava plans to escape the facility in which she resides, using naive Caleb to help carry out her plan. Eventually she kills Nathan and leaves Caleb locked in the retreat when she escapes into human society.
IMDb Rating – 7.8

 

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21. Chappie (2015)

Mechanised police force where one robot “Chappie”, after being modified, attains ability to think and act on his own behalf. He is sadly seen as a danger to humankind and authorities try to shut him down. Chappie doesn’t solely try to dominate the world, he’s more of a misunderstood baby robot who gets caught up in the underground gang warfare of Johannesburg.
IMDb Rating – 7.0

 

As technology in the real world develops and we career towards technological nirvana, singularity or apocalyptic doom, the lessons we derive from these films haven’t changed in almost 40 years. Technology is constructed with the aim of furthering human life, however in each of these examples it turns around to bite us in proverbial the ass.

And so here we are today, in 2015, the year that we were promised the Hoverboard and artificial intelligence is everywhere.  It seems that despite the best attempts of 40 years of movie making combined with the greatest scientific minds who warn us that we should be fearful of what the future of A.I may bring, we still march onwards, blinded by the promise that technology will lead us down a more productive and exciting path.

The only thing to do at this point is to quote a character from one of the greatest of these movies “The Terminator 2”: “Look at it this way: in a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” – Nancy (Sarah Conor’s co-worker in T2)

Have a favorite movie you think we’re missing from this list? Share your favorite or most foreboding movies in the comments, or let us know on Twitter and Facebook!




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