7 Favorite Bots from the Best Artificial Intelligence Movies
Modern life is looking more and more like science fiction: we each carry with us digital assistants summoned at the tap of a button or call, ready to fulfill tasks or find us the information we need. From our favorite social networks and messaging apps, we can get even more done with the tens of thousands of specialized chatbots available.
This futuristic vision is one many of us first encountered in Hollywood. There’s a whole genre of artificial intelligence films, often meditating on our relationship with tech for good or ill. We’ve collected our favorite AI and robots from some of the best artificial intelligence movies in recent years, some of whom have inspired the assistants we’re using today.
JARVIS from Iron Man
In the Iron Man comics, Jarvis was Tony Stark’s trusted family butler. But in the film series, Jarvis got a technological upgrade as a fancy AI (as referenced in its full name: Just Another Rather Very Intelligent System). JARVIS provides help in Stark’s work and personal life, handling tasks like home security and providing emotional support.
JARVIS’ big strength in the cultural imagination is a specialized bot dedicated to the individual’s needs, operating at their every need or beck and call. The character was the inspiration for Mark Zuckerberg’s personal smart home assistant of the same name, so while Iron Man doesn’t join movies about AI as a genre, it’s pretty important to the development of bots.
Samantha from Her
One of the more recent and major movies about AI in the cultural consciousness, Her prompted a great deal of discussion around the role of tech in our daily lives — namely, how attached we’ve become to our devices emotionally. The film released just two years after consumers were becoming acquainted with conversational UI through use of Apple’s Siri.
The burgeoning man-AI romance between Samantha and Theodore shows the power of AI to provide emotional support to those who need it — while remaining a cautionary tale about the power of tech. For this, Samantha is among the more important artificial intelligence characters in film today.
Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Fans love Marvin for his sad, cynical worldview brought upon by his impressive intelligence. Marvin’s appeal is his personality; far from being cold and overly analytical, he’s a bit pithy, pretty snarky and very fun to listen to. What can bootmakers learn from this gloomy AI? Invest some time in developing a compelling personality and voice to fit your chatbot’s function.
The Red Queen from Resident Evil
Unlike the bots mentioned above, this AI is antagonistic — she’s coldly calculating, sacrificing innocent people as collateral damage to contain a viral outbreak. But as a modern-day homage to HAL 9000, she’s a cool villain. Her holographic body (taking the form of a young girl) provides a vision of conversational UI that we can look forward to with recent developments in mixed and augmented reality.
Quorra from Tron: Legacy
You could feature any character from the Tron series as a notable AI, but Quorra is special: she’s an “isomorphic algorithm,” a program that spontaneously evolved within the digital world of Tron (rather than one that was programmed). Her status as an actual, digital lifeform lends well to the mysterious nature of technology seeming to take on a life of its own. While this is usually explored as a bad thing by Hollywood, Quorra is a nice example of what developers of “true” AI might aspire for.
TARS from Interstellar
Who’s a better work buddy than TARS? This military robot sacrificed himself for his colleague after developing one of the best onscreen bromances (but don’t worry, they both survived). He’s also really funny, often breaking the movie’s tension with sarcasm and humor. Basically, TARS seems incredibly human despite his boxy, metallic body — one of the best artificial intelligence characters out there. TARS, like Marvin, demonstrates how task-oriented or utilitarian bots need not be cold and stuffy
BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Star Wars series has a lot of great bots and tech, but it’s an understatement to say BB-8 took the world by storm before the film even hit theaters. Why? Because he’s cute and charming: “I think he knows he’s cute,” Neal Scanlan, special effects producer, said of the bot. “He knows that he can win people over.”
When some think about AI, they think of the dystopian — killer bots and algorithms who want to take over the world. Adorable bots like BB-8 remind us that AI can have mass appeal if portrayed the right way.