iHuman review – doom-laden documentary about the future of AI

Are the robots going to kills us? Film-maker Tonje Hessen Schei speaks to a range of interviewees including Elon Musk’s computer scientist in an eye-opening, anxiety-inducing film

What will happen when robots become smarter than humans – will they want to kill us? No, according to the computer scientist in charge of Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence research company OpenAI. His name is Ilya Sutskever and he believes that super intelligent machines won’t hate us, but they will prioritise their own survival. Think about the way we treat animals. We’re fond of them but we don’t ask their permission to build a road; it’ll be like that. His analogy is an extraordinary moment in this doom-laden documentary about the future of AI from Norwegian film-maker Tonje Hessen Schei – an eye-opening film if your anxiety levels are up to it.

Another interviewee jokes that AI is being developed by a few companies and a handful of governments for three purposes – “killing, spying and brainwashing” and the film then briskly rattles through the worst-case scenarios facing human civilisation. I suspect nothing here will be a bombshell to anyone who is up to speed on surveillance society in China, autonomous weapons, bias in policing algorithms, the effects of living in online echo chambers, big data and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But iHuman helpfully gathers all the strands together into one apocalyptic package, detailing the many ways in which technology is a risk to life as we know it.

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