For decades, artificial intelligence (AI) has been a major theme of Hollywood blockbusters. The first memorable example for me was HAL from the Kubrick's superb 2001: A Space Odyssey, but there's been numerous other high profile examples since then.
Whether you're thinking of Skynet from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the machines from The Matrix, V.I.K.I from I, Robot, Ava from Ex Machina or even Paulie's robot from Rocky IV, it's clear that Hollywood has a real fascination with the storytelling opportunities inherently linked to artificial intelligence.
But just how close to reality is the artificial intelligence presented in Hollywood films? Given we haven't been brought to the edge of extinction by a sentient computer system using Asimov's Laws against us, you'd think that cinematic AI was purely in the realm of science fiction, but as this infographic from Buddy Loans shows, it may not be quite as far away as you think:
I was absolutely fascinated by some of the technology and AI in current use - particularly ASIMO and REEM, as well as the incredible technology available to help blind people see. You also can't fail to be interested by a robotic nose and tongue, that can out-smell and out-taste their human counterparts.
The artificial limbs are also mind-blowing, and they're far more advanced than I had previously thought. A replacement robotic limb that can replicate the sense of touch and be controlled by thought feels like something taken directly from a Hollywood blockbuster, so I'm staggered to learn that this pioneering artificial arm exists in the real world.
The concept of the AI effect is also extremely interesting; the idea that intelligent machines already exist, we just fail to recognise it. When a machine exhibits some form of intelligence that we would have previously classed as AI, we simply shrug it off as not 'real intelligence'. Therefore, AI becomes whatever has not been achieved so far by a machine. An excellent example of this is IBM's Deep Blue, which beat World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov at his own game in 1997. Before this happened, we would absolutely have classed this as being true intelligence in relation to the computer, but now we simply class is at clever programming and rather basic AI (for example, it may be able to beat a World Chess Master at one particular game, but I could probably beat it at Blackjack, or some other game it's not programmed to play).
So when you add it all up, we've already got machines displaying planning, knowledge, dexterity, communication, reasoning, the ability to learn, perception, predictive capabilities, the ability to move and manipulate objects and incredible integration with the human body (or the ability to mimic the abilities of human beings). If you could simulate an intelligent human brain via hardware and software, and combine all the abilities demonstrated above with this simulation, then Hollywood AI might not be quite as far away as one would think.
This is particularly startling when you consider Stephen Hawking's recent musings on artificial intelligence, when he was quoted as saying:
The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race