Movies About Artificial Intelligence Are Really About Feelings?

The eighth episode of CUNY TV’s Science Goes to the Movies is now available online.  It focuses on two films that deal with artificial intelligence that takes human form – Ex Machina and Blade Runner.  The plot of both films concern robots and how close they come to acting like (and perhaps becoming the mechanical equivalent of) human beings.

Co-hosts Faith Salie and Heather Berlin are joined by Christof Koch, who is President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science (a major non-governmental partner in the BRAIN Initiative).  Both Koch and Berlin have Ph.Ds in neuroscience, with Koch’s work focused on the nature of consciousness and Berlin’s on the neural basis of certain disorders.

While the plot of both films focus on testing the human-ness of androids, the episode struggles – at least in the beginning – with whether or not it is thinking or feelings that ultimately determine one’s human-ness.  And, while mentioned just in passing during this episode, it is often the case that examinations of fictional artificial intelligence are often mechanisms to explore our own selves.

The next episode will premiere later this week on CUNY TV and become available online later.  It will cover the films Silence of the Lambs and Welcome to Me as well as the television series The Jinx and Game of Thrones.  This episode will discuss various kinds of personality disorder and the capacity to kill.

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