Artificial Intelligence is not just a virulent issue within sciences, news media and the economy, but also frequently features as a prominent subject of movies. Especially in the recent past, a number of directors and filmmakers have used the medium of film to address the opportunities, dangers and effects of AI on present and future societies. A curated selection of these cinematic engagements with the topic of AI can be watched on the “Goethe on Demand” streaming platform from November 1 to November 21, 2021. Sit back, get your popcorn out and enjoy!
Norwegian documentary film-maker Tonje Hessen Schei isn’t afraid of asking awkward questions on the subject of artificial intelligence: Will weapons that kill autonomously be used in international warfare in the future? Are democracies still in a position to counter the omnipresent mechanisms of polarisation through social networks? And what role will China take in the future as a global technology player? There will be interviews with an ethical philosopher and a human rights lawyer who both have specific expertise in the future of AI, as well as with tech experts, to explore these questions and others in depth.
An elderly woman in Tokyo who is gifted a robot by her son so that she no longer has to live alone and an American taking a road trip through California with his robot partner. These are the “love stories from the future” told by director Isabella Willinger through a film that explores how humans live together with AI. But contrary to what you might believe from the tagline, things don’t always run smoothly by any means – failed communication and mutual misunderstanding repeatedly crop up as central plot features and provide viewers with moments that are sometimes absurdly comical. Hi, AI was nominated for the German Film Prize as best documentary film in 2019.
Directors: Monika Hielscher and Matthias Heeder, Color, 88 Minutes, 2017, Germany, Documentary, Available Worldwide (Exceptions: Germany, Poland)
Algorithms used by police authorities as a basis to evaluate how dangerous people are before they have even committed a crime. Something that sounds like a vision of the future is already reality in cities all over the world. But how reliable is this type of police prediction system, which is implemented in places like Los Angeles and London? And what are the social consequences of this constantly growing need for security at all costs? The documentary film by Monika Hielscher and Matthias Heeder aims to resolve these questions, and in the process it illuminates the perspectives of police officers, AI scientists, and people who have come under the spotlight of these technologies.
“Who owns the face that has become a numerical code?” This is the question asked by German film director Gerd Conradt in a film centred on addressing the social consequences of the new Facial Action Coding System (FACS) technology. The FACS technology is already used at the Berlin Südkreuz railway station, where passengers’ faces are recorded with cameras and automatically identified. Data privacy specialists, artists and the German State Minister for Digitalisation all have their say in response to this core question – and the outcome is a documentary film that offers diverse perspectives and does not hesitate to classify technological progress in either optimistic or critical terms.
Directors: Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck, Color, 88 Minutes, 2018, Germany, Documentary, Available Worldwide (Exceptions: Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Switzerland)
The constant deluge of information has overwhelmed the internet giants, who are not always justifiably referred to as “social media”. From hate mails to pornography, from depictions of child abuse to manipulated war pictures used as propaganda – the need to address this type of content is growing, if only to protect their own image. However it isn’t usually these corporations that take responsibility for fulfilling these functions: outsourcing is the cheapest solution and also the most convenient: the contracted firms are held accountable for mistakes. As a result in places like Manila you get large numbers of poorly trained, soon to be traumatised “moderators” sitting at their screens for long shifts, using the delete key to do battle against rubbish on the internet – often on the basis of quite sketchy and Americanised criteria. THE CLEANERS is primarily a documentary following their work, but it also follows the discussion in the USA.