Artificial intelligence is one of modern science’s most exciting and rapidly progressing fields. We’ve all seen countless sci-fi movies depicting AI as an all-powerful, godlike force. But other than catching our imaginations, these movies have done little to inspire progress in the field. In reality, the field of AI is much more complex and nuanced.
Thankfully, countless documentaries capture what it’s like to be at the forefront of this exciting new technology—and they paint a picture of both the incredible potential that lies ahead and the very real risks we face. This post will highlight some of the best AI documentaries out there.
Table of contents
- 1. The Social Dilemma
- 2. iHuman
- 3. Hi, AI
- 4. Lo and Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World
- 5. AlphaGo
- 6. TechnoCalyps – TransHuman
- 7. TechnoCalyps – Preparing For The Singularity
- 8. TechnoCalyps – The Digital Messiah
- 9. Road To AI
- 10. Revolutionaries: Artificial Intelligence
- 11. Singularity Or Bust
- 12. Do You Trust This Computer?
- 13. We Need To Talk About AI.
- 14. The Age Of Big Data
- 15. In The Age Of AI
- 16. Artificial Intelligence And Algorithms: Pros and Cons
- 17. How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Our Society
- 18. Artificial Intelligence And Its Ethics
- 19. Consciousness Artificial Intelligence
- 20. Roboticize Me
- 21. Smartest Machine On Earth
- 22. How To Start A Robot Revolution
- 23. The Age Of AI
1. The Social Dilemma
First up is the 2020 documentary “The Social Dilemma,” from Netflix. It explores the ethical implications of advanced AI in social media. This film is a deep dive into our current understanding of human-AI interaction and what it means to have big brands and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use algorithms to influence our public discourse.
It also shines an unfiltered light on the effects of social media on the younger generation, including how it can destroy mental health. Actors serve as fictionalized versions of real-life personalities to show just how powerful AI can be.
In this political thriller, director Tonje Hessen Schei takes a deep dive into the link between social control and power. The documentary explores the potential of AI to monitor and control our daily lives and how those who have access to this technology will have unprecedented power over the rest of us.
iHuman is a must-watch for anyone concerned about the increasing role of AI in our society. Being constantly watched through our phones, internet use, and even our physical activities is becoming the new normal.
3. Hi, AI
AI extends far beyond software and social media—it even has the potential to bring robotic beings to life. This fascinating documentary explores the world of AI through humanoid robots. It touches on the potential relationship and coexistence between humans and robots.
In the documentary, an older woman from Tokyo receives the gift of Pepper, a humanoid robot. In parallel, an American goes on a road trip with his robot companion.
4. Lo and Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World
Renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog explores the excitement and anxiety that comes with the rise of AI in this 2016 documentary. He also mentions the Internet of Things, a series of interconnected devices constantly collecting and transmitting data. True to Herzog’s style, this film is part science and part visual masterpiece.
With a much broader appeal, this documentary contains interviews with giants in the industry, such as Elon Musk and Bob Kahn. The former details his plans to send humans to Mars using AI as a tool to help us survive.
If you’re interested in the development of AI, this film is a must-watch. It explores the incredible controversy surrounding AlphaGo, a computer program developed by Google DeepMind that has repeatedly beaten world champions at Go—one of the most complex games in existence. The game of Go is based on simple rules but can result in thousands of moves at a turn.
Lee Sedol, one of Go’s greatest players, is convinced that he can beat AlphaGo. But to his surprise, this machine beats him four times out of five games—a previously considered impossible feat. This documentary explores the incredible possibilities and implications of AI from all angles.
6. TechnoCalyps – TransHuman
In this Belgian documentary, filmmaker Frank Theys explores the future of AI and other emerging technologies. He offers a series of predictions about how technology will change our world, including the emergence of AI superpowers that rival human intelligence. Bionics and nano-technology are also predicted to play a major role as humans evolve toward transhumanism.
7. TechnoCalyps – Preparing For The Singularity
8. TechnoCalyps – The Digital Messiah
9. Road To AI
If you want to learn more about self-driving cars, this documentary is for you. In this film, we explore the complex history of autonomous driving and how it might affect our world in the future. It explains how it could shape the transport infrastructure of the future, as well as how it could impact our economy and society.
The concept of open source, or freely available software that anyone can improve and build on, is also explored. This is increasingly important in the field of AI development as experts from around the world come together to create better and more practical applications for this technology.
10. Revolutionaries: Artificial Intelligence
This BBC documentary dives into the implications of artificial intelligence. It features Eric Horvitz, Managing Director of Microsoft Research, and Cynthia Breazeal, Chief Scientist of the Robotics firm Jibo. In front of a live audience in Silicon Valley, these two experts discuss the future of AI as it relates to medicine, transportation, and even warfare.
Overall, this documentary offers an insightful look into artificial intelligence. It explores the potential benefits and risks of this rapidly-changing field.
11. Singularity Or Bust
The award-winning documentary Singularity or Bust explores the promise and perils of artificial intelligence. Filmmaker Raj Dye follows two AI researchers in Hong Kong and Xiamen, China, as they work to bring about technological singularity. It provides us with a glance into the Chinese AI world, a rapidly growing and highly competitive industry.
You’ll also meet a 3-foot robot that can think deep philosophical thoughts in this one-of-a-kind documentary. It also explores the potential threats of AI and what we can do to ensure that it is developed for the benefit of all humanity.
12. Do You Trust This Computer?
Mostly geared toward the dangers of AI, this documentary is a must-watch for those interested in the future of technology. It explores artificial general intelligence and how it could lead to dangerous outcomes if we aren’t careful. Fake news and military drones are also discussed, making this an eye-opening look at the potential perils of AI.
Elon Musk is once again a prominent figure, warning us that an immortal dictator AI could come about.
13. We Need To Talk About AI.
Published in 2020, this documentary explores the implications of AI from all angles. In a series of interviews, experts and futurists weigh in on everything from machine learning to how we can create ethical artificial intelligence. It’s a great clash of ideas between the world’s leading thinkers in the field of AI.
You’ll see that not everyone is on the same page regarding the existential threat of AI. However, they can all agree that the first step is simply to talk more about the topic.
14. The Age Of Big Data
Another BBC documentary, this film explores the promise and perils of big data. From Facebook to Amazon to Uber, we see how AI is profoundly transforming our world. Experts discuss everything from privacy concerns to the potential for algorithmic bias to affect major decisions that shape our society.
It also ties machine learning algorithms and AI to the lives of ordinary people, from how we shop for groceries to how we watch TV. And although it was published a decade ago, the lessons still hold true today.
15. In The Age Of AI
Frontline is a PBS documentary series exploring all aspects of our world for nearly four decades. In this episode, correspondent Will Lyman takes us on a journey into the age of artificial intelligence. He explores cutting-edge AI technologies and asks questions about their impact on society and the economy.
The documentaries raise important questions about job loss and privacy in a world that AI increasingly dominates.
16. Artificial Intelligence And Algorithms: Pros and Cons
The hotspots of artificial intelligence research in the world reside in Europe, China, and the USA. This documentary takes a look at how scientists and researchers in these different locations are approaching the development of AI. It also overviews some of the big challenges they face. From deepfakes to biased algorithms to privacy concerns, this film covers a lot of ground.
As the title suggests, it covers both pros and cons of artificial intelligence. It is a much more balanced look at the field than you might find elsewhere, and it is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand the current state of AI development.
17. How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Our Society
Since artificial intelligence extends far beyond business and technology, it is important to explore how AI impacts society. Starting with our private lives, Tilman Wolff and Ranga Yogeshwar examine how algorithms and machine learning change everything from our jobs to our date.
On a more grim note, autonomous weapons and the potential for AI to be weaponized are also discussed.
18. Artificial Intelligence And Its Ethics
Artificial intelligence is changing the world in countless ways, for better and for worse. In this documentary, experts on AI explore the ethical implications of this fast-evolving technology. Ethics encompass everything from big data and privacy concerns to machine learning bias and whether or not AI should be programmed with human values.
We talk about an all-seeing state and the potential for AI to be used as a tool of surveillance and oppression. Overall, it paints a complex picture of artificial intelligence’s role in today’s society.
19. Consciousness Artificial Intelligence
One question often discussed in relation to artificial intelligence is the concept of consciousness. In other words, can machines be conscious? This documentary takes an in-depth look at this debated topic and explores the philosophical questions surrounding it. How will it see the world? Will it feel emotions? Can it have a soul?
The short film explores all these questions and more.
20. Roboticize Me
A provocative CBC documentary from Peter Keleghan explores what it would mean to become a cyborg. Keleghan and his unique co-hosts (a robot by the name of RoboThespian) journey to Japan. Japan is often considered the robotics capital of the world, and there they explore the intersection of technology and humanity in more depth.
One scientist built his own robotic twin, while a cabaret uses a robot to host their shows. Overall, it is interesting to see how technology and humans are blending together in the modern age.
21. Smartest Machine On Earth
This PBS documentary follows Watson, the IBM computer whose sole purpose is to answer questions. In 2011, Watson competed against the two best human Jeopardy champions and won. Watson’s victory marked the mainstream emergence of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a technology that would go on to revolutionize fields like customer service and healthcare.
22. How To Start A Robot Revolution
Red Hat, a company at the forefront of enterprise AI, is the subject of this documentary. We explore the Robot Operating System or ROS. However, it is not limited to just that. As the Open Source Stories series shows, ROS became a platform that has enabled the creation of an entire ecosystem of collaborative robotics. Open source is changing the way we approach robotics, and Red Hat is at the forefront of this movement.
23. The Age Of AI
An 8-part docuseries hosted by Iron Man? Yes, please!
Robert Downey Jr. explores the rapid development of artificial intelligence and how it has impacted our world so far. Neural networks and machine learning are just some of the technologies discussed in this series. Downey Jr. also explores how AI could help heal the human body, enhance it and even replace it.
The docuseries also leaves the planet for a bit, talking about how AI looks for intelligent life in space and its role when we colonize Mars.
Artificial intelligence is rapidly changing our society, raising important ethical questions along the way. Before panicking or jumping on the hype train, it is crucial to explore the realities of AI. Watching films like these will help you stay up-to-date on the latest developments and how AI is shaping our world.
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