AI in movies, TV and animated series vs IRL

Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium

AI in movies, TV and animated series vs IRL

Both scary and hopeful truth behind the voice assistants in modern science fiction

These days we get more information daily than ever before. We share our notions, feelings, and visions. Ideas float around us — one new technology gets hundreds of visionaries. And fantastic ideas of the future don’t seem so distant anymore.

We’ve gathered some of the latest AI references in movies and series to demonstrate how close events they describe to what is happening in real life right now.

Westworld, S03E01


Westworld is a breath-taking sci-fi series that allows us to peer into the most probable future. No wonder the 1st episode of the 3rd season shows us a smart home in its highest pitch of excellence. A minor character who lives there can control every little thing in his house — invocating the virtual assistant simply named System with voice. Unfortunately for him, the System was hacked, and a man became a prisoner of his own house — with no possibility to get out or call for help.

IRL smart home security systems are ever-evolving — of course crime figures would always look for new ways in which security can be broken, but methods to prevent such events are also being constantly developed. This is a two-way process that stimulates the growth of technology, and in real life you would never be in a situation where your safety depends on one smart system. Besides, to prevent unauthorized access companies would use biometrics data, so, there’s no need to distrust a technology.

Murder mystery


Voice assistants were created to simplify our everyday minutiae — they are supposed to reduce the number of actions you take to perform a specific task. The Murder Mystery scene shows that exact moment — a heroine needs to make a voice memo. She’s trying to swipe, she’s looking for that voice recorder app while another person suggests her to use Siri.

IRL things are the same — most people know what voice assistants are all about, some of them use their functionality, but quite a lot of users either forget about it when in need, or don’t do it right. And this is the main problem for any voice assistant’s ecosystem. How to learn your customers how to use the product, how to let them know there are hundreds of handy skills that would save time and make their life much easier? The voice discoverability is still number 1 challenge for voice tech. Tech giants are looking for solutions, Google says that this resolution will require investments from both skill developer and assistant’s manufacturer, and we can easily imagine that there would be some voice SEO strategies in use.

Black Mirror: Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too


Black Mirror series represents all the technogeneous dark future horrors we can think of. Given events are so realistic that some may start to believe techs alone cause all the harm. The main idea of this science fiction anthology television series is that tech may manipulate human behavior but most commonly we see that humans are the ones to blame. A Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too episode shows a smart speaker, a doll powered by a full digital copy of a pop star Ashley. The device is sold with the limiter, and when the main characters get rid of it, they get full access to Ashley’s intelligence and memories.

IRL and for now it’s impossible to create a digital twin of a human mind. Because despite the years of studying we know so little about it. Although there is a way already to turn your memories, ideas, creations and stories into an intelligent avatar that looks like you and would live on indefinitely. A huge piece of your data may be stored for years to save the story of your life — imagine virtual immortality.

The Simpsons, S31 E08 (Thanksgiving of Horror)

Another example of a digital human idea is shown in The Simpsons episode where Homer, desiring to facilitate the daily chores for Marge, uses her DNA to create a digital copy of his wife — a Kitchen AI. As expected, the virtual helper has Marge’s consciousness and it (she?) is not going to put up with the role of a cooking assistant.

South Park, S21 E01 (White People Renovating Houses)


South Park is the show that picks up on the nascent trends and public sentiments and reveals them with a sarcastic tone just before everyone else does. In 2017 when Conversational AI just got good, they released a hilarious episode on voice assistants and its popularity. Of course, it quickly appeared that Alexas and Google Assistants are taking jobs from the working stiff, and the best idea citizens came up with was to throw smart speakers away and sign humans on this digital job.

IRL voice assistants are augmenting the workforce, they are not going to take anyone’s job. They power up business meetings, increase efficiency, and actually simplify work, because in most cases they take on the dull tasks of call-downs, reminders, informing, etc. You can learn more about their capabilities here.

South Park, S22 E10 (Bike Parade, sequel)


Another South Park episode is questioning the topic of privacy. Amazon opens a new fulfillment center in town and soon enough their workers have gone on strike. To follow the developments of this strike Jeff Bezos, who is depicted as an alien Talosian from Star Trek, listens to citizen’s conversations via Amazon Echo devices.

IRL that part might be a little bit true. But of course, there’s no Bezos on the other end of the mic, and most probably your conversations (or perhaps, a little part of it) are not even reviewed and analyzed by humans. The conversational artificial Intelligence is supposed to learn on real use cases — this enhances its ability to understand queries and intents, as well as it allows to provide users with complete responses. This privacy question is a huge cause for concern for most users, so, manufacturers provide their assistants with the ability to erase the info you don’t want to share. For instance, you can say to your Google Assistant ‘Hey Google, that was not for you’ — and it would delete the last thing you said. Try it!

Family Guy, S16 E17 (Switch the Flip)


In a Switch the Flip episode Peter Griffin buys a new smart speaker. Right in the beginning of the episode he shows to his family how does the voice assistant Brandy works — he asks the first question ‘What’s going on in the news’, and gets not the best reply.

IRL when checking the news, we expect to get the breaking ones first. But it’s not always like that. We might very well guess that voice assistant’s algorithms pick the most noted news and the ones that they think would be interesting for its user, basing on previous experiences and preferences. This priority issue is also one of the biggest problems for voice tech (as well as discoverability), and tech giants still have to find a way of solving this problem.


Same Family Guy episode, a couple of minutes later. Yes, sometimes getting a message to your voice assistant might be a struggle, but we have to cut them some slack — the technology is relatively new, and to tell the truth, not all of us have a clear articulation. Speech understanding is a complex process, and it requires loads of data to learn. As time passes, speech recognition gets better. Most significantly, there are projects that help machines to better understand people with speech impairments. A great example here is Google’s large Project Euphonia.

If you’ve already watched the trailer above, you know, that there is a propulsive, fact-based thriller about the appearance of a deadly AI coming this year. There’s no need to explain the plot — the trailer says it all.

IRL we have no idea whether something like this could really happen. There’s plenty of people involved into development, and we believe that the absolute majority is moved by good intentions, and safety and prosperity of mankind will always be the key priority. Besides, to make a contribution and better the world you can become a voice tech developer yourself — no special skills required, plus, there are plenty of special voice skills builders and educational resources to start with.