I have to confess, I’m fascinated by artificial intelligence. My favorite TV show, Person of Interest, explores what happens when a machine develops human-like intelligence. I am currently watching through the entire series (for the first time) with my son Timothy.
Why I’m Fascinated by AI
There are a number of reasons for my fascination with AI. One reason is that you can tell a lot about a culture’s unconscious fears by looking at the angst that emerge in their stories and myths. In the early 19th century, when people were afraid of increasing mechanization following the industrial revolution, stories like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein tapped into these latent anxieties. As the 19th century progressed and the theories of Darwin took root in public consciousness, a number of stories began to emerge that gave voice to the fear that the demarcation between man and beast might be porous (Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is probably the most well-known example). Accordingly, I find myself asking if the current popularity of contemporary stories about AI (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, Person of Interest, etc.) might be giving voice to deep-seated and widespread fears that we have been ceding important aspects of our humanity to digital code.