A.I. thread

I’m SURE there’s been a heavyset A.I. thread sometime in the past, but since I’m a new member, I wonder if I may have the pleasure of sparking it back? I’ve written a formal essay on it with the thesis that the film’s as perfect as its creators intended it to be, and am willing to engage in discussion about it!

Welcome to the SDMB, Mr Salads!

I consider the film to be largely misunderstood and quite remarkable, but to reignite this topic, why don’t you:

(1) Post a link to the previous A.I. thread (you can practice your search function this way), and

(2) Give us a synopsis of your essay/opinion, etc. Not too long, but enough to get things going.

I think with the recent DVD release, the film is prime for some reassessment. :slight_smile:

All I can say is it was not the ending I expected.

Hmmmm… so I guess the creators intended to bore us with false endings (there are 5 endings to the movie) and by casting actors with no chemistry (the parents) and glossing over important elements that might have aided in telling a more compelling story (the scene with the perfume)?

There were a couple A.I. threads I found, but this seemed to be the biggest:


Hope that works. It’ll be impossible to reply to any of the points in that thread since there are so many of them, but I’ll list general grievances many filmgoers had with the movie and my retorts against them. I suppose we can go from there.

a.) “The ending was happy because Spielberg directed it; he doesn’t have the nerve to end the film with David praying under the ocean.”

My first response is always, “you thought the ending was happy?” Had Teddy not sat on the bed, yes, the ending could have been happier. But he did, and this duality tugged at me long after the credits kept rolling. It was wonderfully sad and made me cry even after seeing it again on DVD.
My follow-up begs the question: Had it ended with David beneath the sea, the point of the story would have been rendered moot. Its complexity would be diminished.
My third follow-up is that the ending was Kubrick’s. Spielberg may have refined it and added his own brush strokes, so to speak, but audiences had severe problems with the basic premise of the third act. Blame Kubrick, feel ashamed of yourselves, and then go watch it again. The third act was fundamental when both directors were exchanging notes and informations through faxes and telephone calls.

b.) “Artificial intelligence was artificial and unintelligent. What was there to think about it? It answered no questions it proposed.”

That’s because they were left for you to decide. Such divided opinions of a film – hailing it a masterpiece to hailing it a POS – should at least count for something for those anti-a.i. filmgoers. Classics create strong divisions because they dare to go beyond audience expectation. The film wasn’t intended as a box office sponge for Spielberg; it’s why he co-founded Dreamworks, to bring daring films such as these out into the spotlight. If you can’t tell, theater screens are being populated with dumbed down action flicks a la Mummy or whatever “rides the box office wave” at the time. Studios don’t like risks, and A.I. was definitely a big one. Granted that Dreamworks releases some nice large box office films, but even those have more artistic merit than the shit Universal or MGM enjoy putting out. That’s arguable, but also for another thread.
A.I. may have felt like it deviated from the humanistic side of what artificial intelligence imposes into just the groundwork of artificial intelligence itself, but the film contains a constant, steady theme of human life. Never for a second does it turn its back on the human being. I’d like to expound on this more if there’s interest.

and before I go,

c.) “The movie felt like it should have ended about six times before it actually did.”

Of this I agree. During the first viewing, anyway. You don’t understand the context of the narrator, so the audience has a right to feel robbed or played with. But once you realize that the super mecha who was telling the story DEEPLY CARED for David, the narrations under the ocean were full of a sorrow that extended beyond fairy tales. It felt like it was going to end, but it was just the narrator’s compassion that confused audiences. Including myself.

I’d just like to point out that this film should be celebrated for one of the finest jests ever set to film.

The protagonist is trapped, and has no means of escape whatsoever.

Then, the entire story leaps thousands of years into the future, and out of nowhere, he is rescued by godlike machines.

Deus ex machina.

Probably Stanley’s last twisted joke to be played on his adoring fans, and possibly his best.

I have one question about the uber-bots at the end. When I saw A.I. in the theater, I thought they were aliens. Is there anything in the movie that I missed that could lead one to reasonably conclude (this is a work of fiction, not a textbook, so I don’t expect 100% proof) that the creatures were robots and not aliens?

And personally, I don’t consider “Spielberg said they were robots” to be much of an argument. It sounds too much like Lucas’s afterthought explanation of the Kessel Run.

Their appreciation of humans should have given it away. It was the same fascination that humans have now of the God that created them (for those who believe they were created, anyway). David was the last link to them.

There’s more contextual support for them being robots than them being aliens, anyway. People misinterpreted because Spielberg’s done his take on aliens a couple of times. They also resemble our conceptualizations of them.

In terms of physical appearance…you can sort of see the circuitry inside of them. That’s arguable because they’re so advanced that they’re barely comprehendable, but when I watched it, their “circuitry” was noticeable. When they processed David’s information, the images downloaded instantaneously. I don’t know how else you could logically interpret that.

I though A.I was pretty good.

But I was far more fascinated by the web marketing.
Certain letters in the trailer would be brighter, and these were clues. (something about Jenna Salla or something like that)
(also, IIRC the Hebrew word for wisdom was in the trailer)
(being so fascinated, its amazing how much I forgot)

did anything ever resolve? I’m too lazy to check.


The web campaign was outrageous. I’m surprised I didn’t see anything about it on the DVD.

When I came out of this film, the main thought I had was that it was actually science fiction. While it wasn’t totally consistent or successful in everything it attempted, it was science fiction. Which so many ‘sci-fi’ movies are not.

A lot of movies that pretend to be science fiction are really horror or action movies. That the plot takes place in the future, in space, or after a nuclear war is totally beside the point. Last time I was in a theater, I saw a trailer for the latest and best proof of this entertainment phenomenon: Jason X.

But A.I. is true science fiction, in that the idea of robots’ relationship with their creators is central to the story, and that each scene attempts to explore the idea. Sure it missed its own point in some ways, but so does a lot of written sf. I still read it.

What I didn’t get was why the robots in the last act had so little info on humans that they were doing archeological excavations to learn about them. If humans died out, but robots continued, wouldn’t they have retained complete files on humans?

For my money AI was a brilliant piece of filmmaking, and Haley Joe Osment, Jude Law, the makeup team, and the FX team got screwed on the Oscars.

There’s a much longer and more detailed thread here.

When I eventually catch up with all the reviews I have yet to post on my website, I plan to do a followup analysis of A.I. the same way I did Eyes Wide Shut, complete with screenshots. Look for it, oh, sometime in 2005. :rolleyes:

Not necessarily. The evolution of artificial intelligence in the film is clear enough: Teddy is considered the first rung of the ladder, where a.i. is just for entertainment purposes.

The next stage is productivity, utilization. Gigolo Joe was an example of that. A.I. was specialized, and slowly in progress of actually replacing the human race. They don’t consume resources and they don’t succomb to entropy like humans, in that they won’t deteriorate or “go bad.”

The next stage after Gigolo Joe is the David creation. He’s not meant to fulfill any sort of specific duty other than to be a replacement boy. What separates him from other a.i. is that he journeys off on his own to find the blue fairy which will make him a real boy and in turn allow his mother to love him since she abandons him in the forest. This desire to fulfill a dream is the dividing line that ultimately set a.i. off on their own journeys.

The supermecha at the end tried to find the meaning of life, and they discovered the fabric of space and time itself. They knew about humans and they knew they were creations of humans, in some distant past. As machines, the information carried over since the viewer can infer that a.i. began to self-replicate while David was in the ocean. The humans weren’t necessary per se, much like God isn’t necessary to us anymore. We can procreate without any miracles. We just need a fit combination. I don’t doubt it’s any different for those supermecha. To continue with the God standpoint, He set our species in motion, and we kind of do the rest. Same with them.

What’s interesting to note then, is why the supermecha lack so little information on human beings. To continue from the standpoint that they’re a generation that’s self-replicated and existing on its own without human assistance, it’s important to tie it back to the idealogy a.i. had of humans in the second act. Gigolo Joe discussed in depth about his resentment towards humans. Joe removed an ID tag from his chest, a direct action that speaks louder than his words. He defies the humans. These kind of independent occurrances allow for the possibility that a.i. abandoned humans altogether, perhaps even erased information for their own protection. It’s only after generations go by that there’s a renewal and evolution in the a.i., and they want to know about humans again. What spawns this renewed interest is unclear, but I suspect it has to do with their discovery of space and time, and how gateways of existence can only be occupied once.

Don’t forget the sub plot of becomeing a real boy. I got the fact that the robots are robots but what through me off is when he gets to the weeping lions. Or what ever they were. When it was in the middle of no where manhattan But there was 1 guy and alot of these DAVID dolls and the female companian. but he said that the “team” would be pleased with the results. Where was this team?

And What was the whole point behind the sibling rivalery when that part of the plot dies out ever so quickly.

Well I had nothing better to do than rambil. so ignore me and all will be fine.:slight_smile:

The real thing that bothers me is I don’t know why I don’t really like this film. It’s really quite good in most respects, if a bit long, and there’s really nothing that could easily be left out of it without radically changing the tempo and message of the film. Yet for some reason I classify it right next to another Spielberg film which I recognize for its greatness yet have no particluar urge to see again: Empire of the Sun.

Maybe Spielberg is just a little too smart for me. Maybe it’s the strong manipulation. Or maybe it’s that it’s not the right kind of manipulation, and the film is making me confront ideas that I don’t want to confront. Whatever it is, I hope the guy gets the chance to do something similar again. Someday I will come back and wrestle with this one, despite my ambiguous feelings for it, because somewhere deep down I know it will be worth it. I wish there were more films like that. And then again, I’m sort of glad there aren’t so many like it.