Movies serve as a medium to convey and bring life to complex topics in a new way. Big Data and artificial intelligence have long been favorites of Hollywood and remain the focus of many feature films. While the big screen tends to exaggerate certain aspects of technology for its cinematic value, some truth remains behind the elements of AI and data science within these films. Let’s examine 5 top movies that explore the topics of Big Data and AI to add to your watchlist.
Brad Pitt leads this film as the general manager for the Oakland A’s, a baseball team with the lowest budget for players in the league. With the salary constraints to acquiring new players, the team looks to gain a competitive edge through statistical analysis. Data is at the core of management’s decision-making process when it comes to choosing key players and maximizing their budget. This film emphasizes the real-world application of predictive analytics and statistics when it comes to decision-making.
This classic film takes place in a world where artificially intelligent robots are created to serve society and work in off-world colonies. It is difficult to distinguish these robots, also referred to as “replicants,” from real humans. They are ruled illegal on Earth due to their lack of emotion, overpowering strength, and the danger they pose towards society. When four replicants manage to sneak onto Earth, they are hunted down by Rick Deckard, a resident Blade Runner. AI plays an integral role in this film as it tackles difficult conversations around humanity’s relationship with artificial intelligence and the ethical dilemmas that come with creating such machines.
In a futuristic world, robots are engrained in the daily lives of humans, working as their assistants and serving their every need. The robots are programmed to follow the “Three Laws of Robotics” which are meant to protect society. However, this harmony is challenged when a supercomputer named VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) violates these laws. VIKI sources and collects data from around the world in an effort to gain control of all robots. Here we have another representation of the age-old man vs. machine, but the uncertainty surrounding our ability to control the power of AI, even with rules in place, is highlighted.
Here data science is used by PreCogs, a team of “Data Scientists” operating in conjunction with the police, to predict precisely when and how future crimes will occur. Based on this, the police are able to arrest individuals before they’ve even committed a crime. Tom Cruise’s character, an officer in the PreCrime unit himself, is accused of a future murder and must prove he’s being framed. This film represents the real-world use of data to create social good and help make society better as a whole.
This movie follows the relationship between Theodore Twombly, a lonely writer, and his AI-powered virtual assistant named Samantha. As a highly sophisticated operating system, Samantha can master large volumes of information and complete daily tasks for Theodore simultaneously. Her conversation skills are indistinguishable from that of another human, the witty banter and humorous remarks eventually evolve into a romantic connection between the two. This film portrays the potential complexities of the relationship between humans and AI-powered assistants as they become more advanced.
How to Learn from these Films
Though the primary goal of these films is to entertain and stimulate discussion amongst the audience, they each can help us learn important messages from the world of data science.
In order to dive deeper into the underlying themes and messages of these films, try the following:
- Read film analyses and discussion forums online
- Take time to reflect on your experience
- Discuss the film with a friend or coworker
- Research ideas and theories presented in the film
Overall, there are many opportunities to learn from these films and gain a deeper perspective on the power of data science. From real-world applications of predictive analytics to tackling the ethics of AI, movies have an interesting way of bringing life to these topics. Add any of these films to your watchlist to see for yourself!