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Best Movie About Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Updated on April 16, 2015

Artificial Intelligence in Film

At the core of the "intelligence explosion" that many futurists predict will happen by 2045 is artificial intelligence (AI). We use "narrow" AI every day by talking to our phones, searching for things on Google, and even with some of the cars we drive. Innovations behind this movement have been a wildly popular topic of sci-fi movies about artificial intelligence. Here are some of the best, with your chance to vote for the one you enjoyed the most (and to offer a suggestion of others)!

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What is the best movie about Artificial Intelligence so far?

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From HAL to Her, the major players

Here's a quick list of some of the most popular films about artificial intelligence ever created. These films didn't always receive critical acclaim, but they left their mark in one way or another, and some became popular years, and even decades, after their initial theatrical releases.

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Matrix 1-3

Neo is in "the matrix", a virtual simulation of the "real" world where artificially intelligent agents rule the roost.

Transcendence

Johnny Depp's consciousness is uploaded... or is it? This movie not only explores the first "strong AI" creation (or "artificial general intelligence), but it also allows a brief glimpse at collective consciousness, nanotechnological "grey goo", and furturists vs Luddites in an all-too-likely near-future showdown. Depp, as per usual, enjoys playing an off-beat character, very unorthodox in both mannerisms and methodology.

I, Robot

It's 2035, and Will Smith's acting is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. Oh, and robots.

Her (2013)
Her (2013)

Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his operating system. Not as lame as it sounds.

 

Her

Scarlett Johansson is an intelligent operating system with a super sexy voice. Joaquin Phoenix is a moody, marginally depressed letter writer of the near future ripe for a soulmate. The unlikely duo date, and the OS evolves steadily into a superintelligent, fully self aware being. Complications, naturally, arise, in a very poignant, prophetic film.

Without offering too much in the way of spoilers, we get to see evolving "strong AI", near-future tech like wearables and full immersion virtual reality video games, and a look at computer design.

Wall-E

, about a futuristic robot who has feelings.

2001: A Space Odyssey

HAL 9000 is in charge of a spaceship, and the people on board are unwilling pawns in an out-of-control game. "2001" took an early, hard look at one of the more common dystopian visions of the future, with a twist on the "robots run amok" scheme made popularized during the late 1950s.

Additionally, we get a beautiful combination of Arthur C Clarke's and Stanley Kurbrick's vision of the future, and the result is both visually and intellectually stunning. There's also fanciful speculation on the origins of human intelligence. It's a slow, but very fun film.

Terminator 1 and 2

Oh crap, Skynet is self aware!

Blade Runner

It's 2019 and replicants are illegal. Harrison Ford, in typical fashion, kicks ass.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Haley Joel Osment has feelings.

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    • profile image

      James Simmons 6 months ago

      Colossus, The Forbin Project should be on this list. If a movie with robots makes the cut for this then Forbidden Planet, Day The Earth Stood Still, and even Tobor The Great deserve consideration.

    • revolutionbjj profile image
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      Andrew Smith 13 months ago from Richmond, VA

      I really enjoyed Caprica as well, although the cast for BSG was a great deal better. And the Cylons are a lot more complicated than they seem at first glance, so.... root away?

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      Rayn 13 months ago

      Eric, I loved Moon and yeah, that AI was great. I'm kinda over apocalyptic AI scenarios, but I really dug Ex Machina so that's what I voted for. Bicentinnial Man was another one that didn't make the list that I like because it wasn't about AI taking over,.

      @revolution I still have yet to watch BSG (I'm an ex-Mormon so it's been hard for me to want to watch although I hear they move away from the Mormon themes a bit after S1.) It would be hard for me not to cheer for the Cylons ;) Caprica however was fantastic, underrated and underseen IMO.

      Really dug the British show Humans too. So many feels and concepts being interwoven there.

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      Eric 2 years ago

      GERTY in the movie Moon is my favorite. There's just enough decision-making to make you question how 'conscious' it is, or whether it feels any 'emotions', and it's not too forced (something very unique for a hollywood artificial agent).

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      Ivo 2 years ago

      The latest Robocop -although the wetware was human-based, it was still controlled by software which massively accelerated its reaction while it still left the consciousness in place and believing that it is still in charge of its own decisions. What can be more artificial than a human driven by a machine but still being self-conscious human thinking that machine actions are his own?

    • K80theShade profile image

      K80theShade 2 years ago

      Short Circuit

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      Fractal Heretic 2 years ago

      Automata

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      David Q 2 years ago

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      PC 2 years ago

      Lucy with Scarlet Johanssen in the end.

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      Cathryn Dennis 2 years ago

      Bicentennial Man. It addresses issues of built relationships between essentially immortal AI entities and mortal humans and the ethics around AI. It also showed and interesting evolution of the technology aesthetics over a 200 year period. (I doubt this is accurate according to real world innovations, but it was interesting to see that evolving development.)

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      Daealis 2 years ago

      I found Ex Machina to be sorely lacking in almost every aspect as a movie. Transcendense on the other hand went pretty well over the full-brain emulation route, though the curve probably was way too fast to be realistic.

      But Antonio Banderas was recently in a smaller movie Automata, and I think that trumped the whole lot you have listed here.

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      Mike Davidson 2 years ago

      "Demon Seed" (1977) is yet another movie about a super intelligent AI that should be mentioned!

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      Mike Davidson 2 years ago

      "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970) is an important movie about a super intelligent AI you did not mention.

    • revolutionbjj profile image
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      Andrew Smith 2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Matt. I'll take a look at those. I tried watching Automata but just couldn't get into it. Maybe it's worth another look.

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      Matt 2 years ago

      You didn't include The Machine from 2013 or Automata from 2014. Both are stronger films than Chappie at least.

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      Mike 2 years ago

      Interstellar, while not about AI, probably had the most likeable and realistic AI on screen. You grew attached to them during the film with their personality and banter. It wasn't in your face like other moves, but ultimately they were vital in saving the human race.

    • Pras Anand profile image

      Pras Anand 2 years ago

      Hi I wanted to propose "The Sphere"..

      In an ancient (or future) spaceship that is discovered deep in the ocean they find a computer that has problems communicating (an AI of course) but the really interesting "AI" is in the device that makes their thoughts become reality and of course they are not ready to use it and their fears create negative realities.

      It touches on Augmented Intelligence so that's why I find it's the best so far, because it questions much more than AI but also leaves us wondering - are we ready for this? The creators of the device were more in control of themselves and so using such a device for travel, or other such things was feasible. I like the point that we are not ready and should consider our relationship to AI and it's own perception of us. Military AI will "think" about killing for example.

      The AI of the computer system already validates being mentioned here and I think it takes the idea that HAL introduced to another level, very enjoyable - but the device that makes our thoughts become reality is the real diamond in this story in my view..

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      Robin Williams has also feelings 2 years ago

      U totally forgot Robin Williams' "Bicentennial Man"

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      Germ 2 years ago

      Really? Transcendence got the most votes? It was a very weak film. I hope it just got the votes because it's the most relevant. Hopefully it will die in time. It barely explored A.I. The Matrix, explored a simulated reality made by AI for godsakes. Her showed romance better with an A.I than Transcendence, it also went a lot deeper it it's philosophical approach. Blade Runner should have got more as well. The last scene set up generations of cyberpunk and futurism genres.

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      Tim 2 years ago

      it would be a better question to ask is Google Now an AI. It has much stronger capabilities then Siri at this point in time.

    • revolutionbjj profile image
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      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      @jhenriq26: I agree about it being a shame Caprica was canceled. It seems like the best concept shows about AI (Intelligence, Almost Human) are being canceled after just a season. I'm sure there will be more in the near future, but I'd continue to watch all of these eagerly, and I know there are others like me. The networks and cable channels have seriously underestimated the desire for TV about AI.

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      jhenriq26 3 years ago

      @revolutionbjj: As far as AI themed shows/movies I preferred Caprica in the sense that it dealt more directly and as "realistically" as a show can with social and economic issues of an emerging artificially intelligent entity. It focused on very contemporaneous topics - war, terrorism, religion, immigration, traditional values clashing with "transhumanist" events without the distraction of swashbuckling unrealistic space wars. It was a shame that it got cancelled.

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      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      @beneichler: I absolutely LOVED the BG series, especially the intro miniseries! I need to do a follow-up for TV shows. What else would be included for AI TV? Person of Interest, Max Headroom, and Intelligence come to mind.

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      beneichler 3 years ago

      Not technically a movie, but I'd put forward the 2004-2009 version of Battlestar Galactica, which did Transcendence before Transcendence did, and at a high level is largely about the dangers and potential of human-like (i.e. emotion-directed) artificial intelligence and very advanced machine learning, alongside various political and religious themes.