Big Box Office Technophobia

I watched Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning last night.

What a movie.

Clear bad ‘thing’ (spoiler alert, the villain is not a person), mind-boggling stunts, just the right amount of campy insider jokes for people who pay attention.

Incredible.

The thing that caught my attention the most, though, is “AI scary” theme.

As I’ve already spoiled for you, the main “bad guy” isn’t a guy at all. It’s AI.

(I mean, there IS a bad guy, but he’s henching for an AI gone rogue.)

When the movie started production more than 3 years ago, it was more fiction than science to think about an AI that could take over the world.

But today. . .

We have more AI tools popping up than we can keep track of.

AI is already being integrated into standard workflows of every industry and service than you can imagine.

A couple days ago I saw a writer on Twitter say that he asks ChatGPT what should happen next in his story, and then avoids that path. Pretty smart!

So the timing is pretty interesting in terms of how believable the story is.

Going Deeper

But the “AI goes bad” framing is surface level.

The blatantly obvious messaging is even more interesting to me.

In the age of digital communication, how can we trust what we know? Everything becomes susceptible to re-contextualization, manipulation, and distortion. When everything exists in digital format, how then can we trust anything anymore?

This is the really scary part of the story to me.

I think this is a more pressing issue than AI.

And that’s why I liked the movie more than I thought I would.

I came for a spectacle and they snuck in foundational epistemological nightmare fuel.

Well done!

I could write entire books about the nature of digital environments, decontextualization, centralized communication platforms, and decentralized / open source projects that are fighting the good fight against distortion chambers.

Maybe I will, but that’s for another time.

If you’re interested in a 3 minute teaser on the subject, then watch this video. I wrote the script, and I’m still proud of the way it came out.

Best thoughts,
~Jonathan

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