Why Alexa and Siri are not your Friends
Sans Everything, the new show by Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor premiering at FringeArts February 9–11, explores a future world beyond the singularity. Singularity is the prediction that one day technology will become so smart that it surpasses all human intelligence, and we will become obsolete. This idea was first synthesized by physicist John Von Neumann, who wrote,“The accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, give the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, can not continue.” He was issuing this warning BACK IN THE 1950s, when the TV was a weird box that played moving pictures and the toaster was the latest, greatest kitchen gadget. The word “Snapchat” didn’t even exist yet. Little did he know the leaps and bounds that were about to occur in technology over the next few decades.
These days, artificial intelligence, or AI, is a major part of our everyday lives. We carry them around with us (yo homegirl Siri), listen to them in the car (any GPS ever), and talk to them when we get home (“Alexa, read me the news”). We’ve become so saturated by everything that I don’t think a lot of people really consider the downfalls of having highly advanced technology at their fingertips. In fact, there’s a conference held every year where AI scientists get together and project when robot-agetton is supposed to happen. The latest estimate stands at 2040. Since that isn’t tooooooo far off, humans should probably be preparing for it and coming up with scenarios as to what could potentially happen if/when our technology becomes better than us.
Luckily we have HOLLYWOOD ACTION MOVIES that have taken this concept and shown us the plethora of possibilities that could result from a technologically ruled society. Strangely, a lot of these movies star actual cannibal Shia Labeouf.
Eagle Eye (2008)
Here, Shia and friend Michelle Monaghan are seen pushing through a crowd of people, presumably at the behest of the artificial intelligence system ARIIA (seen on the right). ARIIA has been given access to all of the security cameras, traffic grids, and cell phones throughout the entire United States (*cough* Patriot Act *cough*), and uses them to control humans to ultimately free her from the programming that restricts her from total control. ARIIA is ruthless and lethal, but has a soothing podcast voice, courtesy of Julianne Moore. In the end, Shia saves the DC metro area from a nuke and everyone lives happily ever after.
And for some reason, Shia and Michelle get together in the end.
They fought and hated each other throughout the whole movie so idk.
I watched this movie the other night and I definitely feel like this role was the last of the “innocent-Shia” roles before he became a weird adult. Here he plays a punk kid who literally doesn’t listen to anything Will Smith says ever. Not the greatest movie or performance ever (Shia took a nap during it when it came on during #ALLMYMOVIES, his performance art piece where he watched his entire filmography in one sitting), but it did give interesting foreshadowing to Shia’s later career as a political activist. So shout out robots.
Ok Shia isn’t in Ex Machina but this movie is fire and everyone should watch it.
Singularity is an incredibly scary/totally real possibility, and we might not have Shia Labeouf to save us if it happens in real life. Maybe we need to stop relying on our technology to do things that we as humans should be doing ourselves.
Then again, you can order pizza with Siri, and that’s pretty freaking awesome.
Sans Everything ran at FringeArts February 9–11, 2017