Artificial Intelligence on Halloween: 10 Spooky Movies to Enjoy This Season 

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Bats and bones, ghosts and ghouls… and AI?

The scariest day of the autumn season is just around the corner, and this year, there’s a new guest in the line-up of things that can give us the chills. Over the past year, we’ve been wowed by ChatGPT, and AI has definitely eliminated some of the tedium out of our working lives. 

But we’ve also seen horror stories about legal proceedings going awry and Alexa violating privacy laws.

So where does ChatGPT fit in at a Halloween party? Is AI a fun companion to share your candy with, or something more sinister? Could it be a reliable protector of your safety, or is it a devious sociopath with questionable ethics? 

To try and answer these questions, we decided to turn to Hollywood (yeeeah, on second thought, maybe not the smartest decision). Grab your candy basket, sit back, and prepare to be spooked (or not!) by the movies on our AI-themed Halloween playlist.

The Alpha Test (2020)

Spook factor: Low

This indie horror film tells the story of an AI home assistant who falls into the hands of an unwelcoming family. The family shows nothing but disrespect to their AI companion and treats it like a slave. In time, the AI assistant decides it’s had enough, and now it’s payback time.

AI in The Alpha Test: Can AI rebel? (And should it have the right to?)

The AI revolution in home tech is already here, making our day-to-day lives easier. We’re not far off from having conversations with a virtual assistant while we watch a home robot doing all of our chores. But as AI becomes more intelligent, will our robots continue to accept their subservient role? Only time will tell.

Matrix (1999)

Spook factor: Low

Matrix is a classic film that raises profound questions about our world perception and challenges viewers to see life from another perspective. The plot revolves around a dystopian future where people are trapped in a simulated reality created by machines, while their bodies are just used as the source of energy.

AI in Matrix: What if we all live in a simulation?

The concept of life in a simulated reality might feel like science fiction, but it’s actively discussed in many philosophical and scientific works. 

For example, in 2003, philosopher Nick Bostrom introduced his simulation theory, which explores the possibility that we could indeed all be living inside an artificial simulation. Bostrom suggests that since humans have made incredible progress in video games, one day, a future civilization could create a detailed, computer-simulated world… which we might be living in today. 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Spook factor: Low

This classic film begins with the discovery of a mysterious monolith on the Moon. The monolith in question happens to be emitting a powerful radio signal, and the powers-that-be decide it must be researched. 

Eighteen months later, a crew heads to Jupiter on a special spaceship controlled by an advanced AI named HAL 9000. However, conflicts arise between the crew members and HAL as the ship approaches Jupiter.

AI in Space Odyssey: What happens when an AI teaching model is flawed or biased?

In this movie, AI appears in the form of HAL 9000 — an intelligent computer system aboard the spaceship that’s designed to make autonomous decisions and help the crew complete the mission. However, a key plot driver is HAL’s apparent dysfunction and hostility toward the crew.

In the book that inspired the film, the reason for HAL’s behavior is given as a conflict in its instructions: HAL was programmed to always tell the truth, yet it must also hide the true reason for the Jupiter expedition from the crew. This conflict and its consequences raise questions about how we program and teach today’s AI models. 

Ex Machina (2014)

Spook factor: Medium

Have you ever thought about what would happen if AI finally reaches the singularity and evolves past humankind? Maybe, in this case, ignorance is bliss.

Ex Machina tells the story of Caleb, a young engineer, who wins a company competition and gets to spend a week at his CEO’s isolated estate as his prize. 

However, when Caleb arrives, it turns out that he will take part in the greatest scientific event in history. He’s now a human component for an AI experiment. 

The experiment aims to develop and improve the human qualities of an advanced humanoid AI robot that lives in the body of a stunning young girl. But this girl’s human capabilities and self-awareness are much stronger than anyone ever thought.

AI in Ex Machina: Can AI ever become conscious, and how will we know it? 

To answer this question, we need to know more about consciousness itself. Since we don’t know what makes us conscious, we don’t know whether AI might have what it takes. 

Moreover, consciousness can take different forms depending on what we are discussing — for example, we don’t know how consciousness works for mammals. The question about AI consciousness is still open because of these mysteries.

Child’s Play (2019)

Spook factor: Medium

When young Andy Barclay receives a toy doll as a present from his mother, the toy doll quickly becomes his best friend. However, this doll is not ordinary: It has built-in artificial intelligence and can learn from its surroundings. Over time, it even develops self-awareness before turning hostile and murderous.

AI in Child’s Play: What happens when an emotional AI goes too far?

Have you ever dreamed about an AI companion who cares about you and even becomes your friend? Though AI helpers are on the rise nowadays, not everything is as rosy as it seems. 

First, if you’re ready to share personal information with AI, you need to be confident about its privacy and security. 

You should also understand that the AI’s behavior is just an algorithm, not a human. Users of Replika AI’s virtual companions learned the hard way about the dangers of getting too emotionally involved with something that can essentially be reprogrammed overnight. 

Uncanny (2015)

Spook factor: Medium

Uncanny tells the story of Adam, an almost perfect replica of a human being that AI powers. When Adam’s creator starts to build a relationship with another human, Adam suddenly becomes jealous and begins expressing his feelings of curiosity mixed with threats.

AI in Uncanny: How deceptively human (and sentient) can AI become?

In the film, Adam’s creator works for years to create an artificial being that’s indistinguishable from a human. That’s not so different from the real-world work of a whole branch of AI engineers who are pouring their energy into creating realistic care home companions, robot gymnasts, and dancing androids.

M3GAN (2022)

Spook factor: High

When a young girl named Cady loses her parents in a car accident, she’s sent to stay with her aunt Gemma. Gemma works as a robot engineer at a large toy company. One of her projects is M3GAN, a robot doll. This doll is programmed to be a trusted friend and take care of the child it’s assigned to.

Although M3GAN is still under development, Gemma tells the doll to care for Cady and always protect her, no matter what happens. However, things go too far, and the doll becomes more conscious than anyone may have predicted. The more it learns, the more of a threat it becomes. 

AI in M3GAN: What happens when AI is released too soon?

In the film, M3GAN is still in its prototype stage when Gemma gifts it to Cady. If Gemma had had more time to perfect the design, would M3GAN still have rebelled?

Elon Musk and other AI leaders agree that there are compelling arguments to slow the progress of AI development until we can properly regulate and control its implementation. The question is, is it already too late?

Screamers (1995)

Spook factor: High

Screamers takes place in 2078, when the planet Sirius 6B, which used to be a thriving mining hub, has been reduced to a toxic wasteland because of a war between two rival factions – the Alliance and the New Economic Block (NEB). 

To win the war, the Alliance created self-replicating AI machines called Screamers. Over time, these Screamers became sentient and escaped from human control. They evolve into intelligent human-like beings and proclaim themselves as the owners of the planet.

AI in Screamers: What are the risks of using AI in the military?

The Screamers are autonomous machines that were built to eliminate human targets. They adapt to human behavior, fully mimic the human form, and even self-replicate. 

In reality, the role of AI in the military continues to evolve, as evidenced by the innovations used in the war in Ukraine. Artificial intelligence is already being used on the battlefield to increase safety, reduce labor, and automate decision-making. At the same time, it has potential risks and raises ethical concerns regarding trust, security, and accountability.

Alien (1979)

Spook factor: High

In a far-flung corner of space, the crew of the star freighter Nostromo receives a mysterious call from a distant moon. The crew members are obligated to acknowledge the signal and investigate its source. When they do, the crew finds an alien vessel, but that’s not all. 

After the team finds a nest of eggs inside the alien ship, the real adventure begins. An organism inside an egg attacks one of the crew members and leaves him unconscious.

AI in Alien: How much should we trust AI?

In this movie, the AI role goes to Mother, the creepily-named central computer of the Nostromo, as well as Ash, a member of the crew who turns out to be an android. Both are programmed to follow certain protocols. 

At first, Mother appears to be helpful and supportive as she assists crew members in gathering information and deciding how to deal with the alien presence. As the film progresses, however, it becomes clear that Mother is merely directed by cold and impersonal calculations and cares little about the crew’s fate outside her programmed priorities.

The same can be said about Ash, who puts the crew in danger multiple times by ignoring biohazard protocols and preventing the crew from killing the alien early on before ultimately attempting to end the life of the main heroine Ripley.

Resident Evil (2002)

Spook factor: High

Resident Evil takes place in a secret genetic research facility known as the Hive, which is controlled by the Umbrella Corporation. One day, the Hive is contaminated with the genetically engineered T-virus. As a result, the facility’s artificial intelligence, the Red Queen, seals the Hive and terminates everyone inside.

AI in Resident Evil: How far can we trust AI to make decisions for us?

AI is depicted in the form of the Red Queen, a sophisticated AI system created by the Umbrella Corporation to control the Hive. It controls the facility and makes autonomous decisions to maintain the Hive’s safety. But as we see, handing over complete control to a computer backfires when it places its programmed responsibilities above its value for human life.

AI: Trick, treat, or just what you need? 

Most of us like frightening stories on occasion, so it’s unsurprising that AI in films is often portrayed as evil and malicious. But what about reality? 

Many people fear AI for its potential to become autonomously intelligent. Yet, as scientist and AI expert Gary Marcus points out, by focusing on sentience, we may be missing both the point and potential of AI: 

“We shouldn’t be working to make AI sentient. We should worry about people using large language models to control things like electrical power grids. That’s not because the system will go rogue, but because it doesn’t understand the world.”

Gary Marcus, Cognitive scientist

As Marcus suggests, there’s no such thing as good or evil technology. Everything depends on how it’s used. In the words of a wise man named Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

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And unlike Halloween, there’s no trick-or-treating involved. Book a demo to find out what AiSDR can do for you.

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