It’s been 31 years since the original Child’s Play film was released, and in 2019, the remake has a new element of terror to thrill audiences: artificial intelligence.
Three decades have passed, and along with four sequels in the original film series, advancements in AI have come in spades. What filmmakers and tech enthusiasts alike dreamed of in 1988 has come to fruition in 2019: artificial intelligence is here to stay.
Child’s Play: Chucky, the AI-powered killer doll
The original Child’s Play film follows a widow who unknowingly purchases a “Good Guys” doll (named Chucky) for her son’s birthday from a street peddler. However, what she doesn’t know is that the doll is possessed by the spirit of a fugitive serial killer who uses traditional Haitian mysticism to transfer his soul into the doll, the conduit, before he dies.
In the 2019 inception, instead of being possessed by a deranged serial killer, the “Buddi” doll (still named Chucky) is programmed with artificial intelligence that turns out to be defective, thus turning the doll into an AI-powered killing machine. Not only is Chucky programmed with the ability to “think” like a human, but he also has the ability to learn from his surroundings, meaning machine learning (ML) algorithms are at play.
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Instilling fear through artificial intelligence
Writer Tyler Burton Smith reignites horror fans’ fear of creepy dolls by modernizing the means by which Chucky can attack his victims. Fictional parent company Kaslan Corporation mass produces smart devices like coffee makers, thermostats, robotic vacuums, and more.
But they don’t stop there; they also create Buddi, an AI-powered doll that’s meant to be a child’s best friend.
In correspondence to Kaslan’s announcement of the Buddi doll, they released a smartphone app meant to be used as a complement to the toy. The app allows users to play games, use computer vision to “see” what their Buddi doll sees, and connect the doll to their smart home devices – essentially encompassing anything that can be powered electronically. It also gives users the option to connect to The Cloud, which houses data for all devices on the internet.
All-in-all, the Buddi doll is meant to be a user’s best friend as well as an intelligent companion through which all smart devices are connected, managed, and controlled.
Rogue AI – is it something we should fear?
What’s scarier about the new, tech-savvy Chucky is that other than having a slightly more realistic storyline than that of a possessed doll fueled by voodoo, the unsettling nature of technology taking over our lives has been instilled in our minds ever since Y2K.
In the film, even non-standard electronic smart devices like drones and self-driving vehicles are depicted, bringing the nightmare of rogue AI appliances to life – and for good reason. In one of the movie’s trailers, viewers can see a man fall down while putting Christmas lights on his house. After he falls, his lawnmower (another smart device) comes after him to attack and kill. The lawnmower is unmanned, yet speedily moves toward the man lying on the ground. You can guess what happens next.
Though hyperbolic, these scenes can trigger fears about AI going rogue – fears that can be affirmed by real-life cases of mishaps with artificial intelligence.
AI: the benefits and risks in real life
For years, many people have contemplated the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence, questioning whether AI-powered machines are hazardous, as depicted in Child’s Play. However, in the non-cinematic world, multiple industries are using AI with positive results.
Still, people have reported instances of voice assistants “spying” on their private conversations and devices turning on and off on their own. But is that any reason to fear artificial intelligence innovations as a whole?
You be the judge.
Interested in learning more about the roots of artificial intelligence (minus the fear)? Check out our comprehensive guide on the history of AI.