Screen shot from “Superintelligence” movie trailer. (Source: YouTube)

AI Rom-Com ‘Superintelligence’ Goes for Funny over Factual, Critics Say

Over the past few decades, we have watched the love affair between humans and machines deepen. From “2001 A Space Oddessy” and that rascal computer Hal, to Number Five the robot in the movie “Short Circuit,” humans can be putty in the hands of some robotic technology. Now comes a movie highlighting that relationship in a whole new way.

Alan Boyle has an article in about a flick called “Superintelligence” and what it says about AI and how it might develop common sense.

Seattle, Microsoft and the field of artificial intelligence come in for their share of the spotlight in “Superintelligence” — an HBO Max movie starring Melissa McCarthy as the rom-com heroine, and comedian James Corden as the world’s new disembodied AI superintelligence.

“But how much substance is there behind the spotlight? Although the action is set in Seattle, much of the principal filming was actually done in Georgia. And the scientific basis of the plot — which involves an AI trying to decide whether or not to destroy the planet — is, shall we say, debatable.”

Oren Etzioni — the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI2 — and Carissa Schoenick, AI2’s senior program manager and communications director, gave their take on the movie’s depiction of AI. Kurt Schlosser, who covers the Geek Life beat at GeekWire, weighed in on the movie’s depiction of Seattle tech culture.

Schoenick noted that the AI could find its way into any device, ranging from a Tesla to a toaster, but couldn’t break in on the movie’s characters while they were working on secret plans to foil its scheme.

“It’s exactly as powerful or not as it needs to be at any given point in the movie,” Schoenick said.

Flimsy plot aside, Schoenick notes how a Microsoft researcher points to the ups and downs of a worldwide neural network on a giant display screen.

“I don’t think the audience would buy that as something that we could just dial up and say, ‘Oh, let me check the neural network activity today around the world. It’s really high, I wonder what that means?’” she said. “Also, why would Microsoft be the one coordinating the global response to a rogue AI?”

Etzioni said the movie got one thing right about AI: “Emotions, interactions, the little contradictions that make us decide who to love and who not to love are very difficult for people to understand — and completely unfathomable for machines,” he said.

The article has more about their comparisons to real-life relationships between humans and tech.