Aside from the enduring appeal of James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequel, which continues to hit the box office charts more than a month after its release, M3GAN is exactly what will entice people to start watching in 2023. The reason for the movie.
After an early $100m (£81m) gross, the horror flick was announced this week for a hot sequel, due out in 2025 and full of genre tropes that Hollywood screenwriters have long relied on.
orphan? Check. Rough death? Check. Creepy dolls? Yes, check.
But rather than being possessed by a demonic spirit or a serial killer like its cinematic ancestors, Annabelle and Chucky, M3GAN is powered by something arguably more terrifying: artificial intelligence (AI).
Amazingly capable AI has been a crutch for filmmakers for decades—from cameron’s terminator arrive HAL in 2001: A Space OdysseyAudiences find it an irresistible source of escapism.
But M3GAN’s debut comes in a world where artificial intelligence and its associated ethical dilemmas are everywhere, from the voice assistants we gladly invite into our homes, An artistic robot testifies at Westminster.
“The race to create AGI is because it’s cool and doesn’t really think about the consequences – that’s just typical human,” Gerald Johnstone, director of M3GAN, told Sky News.
“Like Tobacco in the 50’s”
It’s this ethos that is incorporated into the design of the film’s titular character, positioned as the ultimate “cool nanny,” irresistible to adults and children alike.
M3GAN, the product of a high-tech toy company, is portrayed as a morbidly amusing satire.
Because while Alexa and Siri may not express violent desires the way M3GAN will eventually do, the habits users form around her are not far from reality.
Just as Alison Williams’ Gemma commissioned dolls to entertain her niece so she wouldn’t have to, many parents let their smartphones or smart speakers keep their kids busy.
While M3GAN’s new best friend is outraged at the prospect of her being turned off, it’s hard not to imagine a similar scene happening when a child is told to put down the iPad.
“I look at it from a parent’s perspective,” Johnstone said.
“With the ubiquity of iPads and smartphones — how do you educate your kids about the dangers of that with screen time and stuff like that.
“I believe we look back and all of these technologies are probably akin to tobacco in the 50s.
“I literally had to reach out my hand to get the iPhone out of the cramp.”
The real robot that inspired M3GAN
Whereas Johnstone’s “starting point” was the furry 90s toy robot Furby, whose lifeless eyes seemed to pierce your soul, M3GAN was inspired in part by a robot named Sophia.
Sophia, made by Hanson Robotics, quickly gained almost celebrity-like global popularity following its 2016 reboot.
Built by a former Disney theme park engineer to mimic human behavior through artificial intelligence, speech recognition and advanced robotics, Sophia is positioned as someone who can work in fields like healthcare, customer service and events.
A year later, she appeared in chat shows and music videos, was named the United Nations’ first “innovation champion,” and was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, where creator David Hansen suggested she could stand up for women’s rights. People laughed a little.
But don’t pay attention to all this. To Johnstone, “she looked a bit like a prop from a John Carpenter movie”.
“The more real, the creepier it is,” he added.
As Catherine Bresling, who works on the technology behind Amazon Alexa, puts it Sky News’ Big Ideas Live eventhistory is replete with attempts to assign human agency to technology.
Sophia is not alone, Ai-Da – the aforementioned artist robot who provided evidence for the House of Lords Inquiry into Technology and Creativity – has a similarly human aesthetic.
Her creator, Aidan Meller, told Sky News last year that she would help people understand “the very big, radical changes that artificial intelligence will bring about”.
Elon Muskof course, at the unveiling in late 2022 to take part in the show Tesla’s humanoid robotthe billionaire hopes to mass-produce and sell to the public.
“I think Optimus is going to be incredible in 5 or 10 years, like exciting,” he claims.
lest we forget Killer robots are almost becoming public policy in San Franciscopolice want to deploy machines loaded with explosives there to deal with “dangerous suspects”.
“The times we live in are really ridiculous,” says Johnstone — and it’s hard to argue with that.
What’s next for M3GAN?
Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke famously said that the best technology is “indistinguishable from magic.”
Few would argue that any of these creepy robots come close, and the idea of a humanoid robot rogue is Experts think it shouldn’t keep us up at night.
In fact, the success of M3GAN shows that people are willing to view the prospect as a form of escapism.
“Ultimately, I want it to be a fun movie,” Johnstone said. “But it can only be a good thing if people think hard about it from a parenting perspective, from an AI regulation perspective.”
With two years left until M3GAN 2.0 and Johnstone yet to be confirmed to direct, who knows what our relationship with AI will look like by then.
while at the same time ChatGPT may not be smart enough for joint writing credit (Johnstone tried, it had limitations), Hollywood needs to keep up.
“Whether it’s M3GAN 2 or something else, the conversation is constantly evolving,” he told Sky News. “It’s important that we think about how audiences and consumers are affected by these products and how that affects us psychologically. We need to be ahead of the conversation.”