Roman Yampolskiy, a professor and researcher at the University of Louisville’s Speed School of Engineering and a specialist in AI safety and security studies, reviews some of the themes developed in the new James Wan film.
M3GAN, the best friend a lonely and orphaned 8-year-old girl (Violet McGraw) could ever have, is very popular with viewers. Nevertheless, the artificial intelligence doll has strange behaviors to the point of becoming a dangerous killing machineand all thanks to the imagination of its creator, James Wan (author of the successful franchises of Saw: Macabre Game Y The spell).
In interview for The Hollywood Reporteractress Allison Williams revealed her process for playing Gemma, the creator and designer of the robotic doll in the film. To lend credibility to the character, he spoke with robotics specialists, engineers, and experts in the field of artificial intelligence to nail down Gemma.
First I asked what it is like to be a woman in this field where there are so many men. I wanted to know what to wear and how to dress. Do you wear makeup?
Later, according to the statements of the also actress of Flees!came a more reflective stage of investigation: “From the most superficial questions to the much deeper ones: Why did you get into this field? What motivated you? Did you have role models? It was great.”
M3GAN is far from the first film featuring a sophisticated artificial intelligence system that ends up revealing its own consciousness: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ex Machina are very good examples.
Beyond the speculations of Stanley Kubrick or the intentions of Alex Garland, journalist Katie Way asked if there could be a doll like M3GAN In the not too distant future. And to answer, she interviewed Roman Yampolskiy, an associate professor at the University of Louisville’s Speed School of Engineering.
One of the first reflections that are rescued from the interview published in VICE is the gap between science fiction and reality from the remarkable work of Akela Cooper (also screenwriter of Malignant): “Science fiction writers are usually the first to realize where we are headed. Science fiction preceded science. Inventions like the Internet, television, submarines were described long before we could build them.”
Yampolskiy continues: “I think we have all the ingredients for it, we just haven’t put it together. We have robotic bodies, humanoid bodies. Boston Dynamics does a great job developing those systems; They are very flexible, they can jump, they can dance. And then we have the brain: systems like ChatGPT can definitely talk to you, answer questions.”
Despite the fact that M3GAN is not yet a reality, for the specialist in AI security and protection studies, the approach of the film is not unreasonable from Gerard Johnstone: “I don’t think there’s a single cyber-physical system that combines all those capabilities into one. That’s the kind of futuristic prediction they’re making in the movie. But it sounds like something the Tesla robot is supposed to become.” if they are successful in their development”.
Regarding the emotional capacity of a technological devicea subject that in the cinema has been raised in films such as Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve and Her of Spike Jonze, Yampolskiy notes, “It definitely doesn’t have human emotions in a traditional sense. But there are reasons based on rationality. Jealousy has to do with resource allocation: I don’t want the resources devoted to me to go to someone else. It is very rational that any system that tries to optimize for rewards would develop such impulses.”
Wan had already anticipated that one of the influences of M3GAn comes from Terminatordirected by James Cameron. What does Yampolskiy think about the idea of a killing machine? “It depends on how the robot is programmed. If it’s programmed to destroy any danger to that human you’re trying to protect, it would make sense to kill it. If you want to continue protecting the child, you need to make sure they don’t destroy it, don’t disconnect it, don’t imprison”.
As we continue to witness the distance between science fiction and science getting shorter and faster, we can review other influences behind M3GAN, speculate on the possibility of a sequel or imagine if the technological capacity of this doll could surpass in a fight the explosiveness of chucky or the supernatural qualities of Annabelle.