February 22, 2024

Terminator director James Cameron on AI: ‘I Warned You Guys in 1984 and You didn’t Listen’

Director James Cameron has reflected on the rise of artificial intelligence and the dangers that may exist in the future, recalling his 1984 film The Terminator.

In a new interview with CTV newsCameron looked at the motives of those developing the technology, questioning whether it is for profit (“teaching greed”) or for protection (“teaching paranoia”), as he acknowledged the threat AI could pose to humanity as further progress is made.

“I warned you in 1984, and you didn’t listen,” he said. “I think the biggest danger is weaponizing AI. I think we’ll get into a nuclear arms race equivalent to AI, and if we don’t take it, the other guys will definitely take it, so it’s going to escalate.

“You could imagine AI in a combat theater,” he said. “The whole thing is that the computers are fighting at a speed that humans can no longer intervene, and you have no ability to de-escalate.”

Hollywood is currently figuring out how to put AI in the hands of the craftsmen behind movies and TV shows without forgetting the human trades in the process. This topic has been hotly debated in recent weeks as the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WAG) joined in a historic double strike, with both unions demanding safeguards against AI technology.

In particular, SAG-AFTRA argued for safeguards against AI using actors’ likenesses without their permission or compensation, and the WGA raised concerns about AI replacing scriptwriters. However, Cameron is of the opinion that technology will not replace writers anytime soon because “it’s never a question of who wrote it, it’s a question of, is it a good story?”

“I personally don’t believe that a dissenting mind is just regurgitating what another embodied mind has said – about their life, about love, about lying, about fear, about mortality – and putting it all together in a word salad and then regurgitating it… I don’t believe that there is something that can move an audience,” he added.

As such, Cameron insisted he “wouldn’t be interested” in AI writing stories or be willing to accept an AI-produced script right now, saying: “We’ll wait 20 years, and if AI wins the Oscar for Best Screenplay, I think we’ll have to take them seriously.”

Although Cameron is opposed to using AI in the film world, it is a topic he has expressed interest in exploring more on screen. He previously said that if he were to relaunch The Terminator franchise in the future, he would like to use AI content, not just “evil robots gone crazy.”

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the last film Cameron directed in the franchise. He had nothing to do with the three sequels that followed but returned as a producer on Terminator: Dark Fate – a film he said he was “pretty happy” with, although he admits it might have worked better without the original stars.

Terminator: Dark Fate earned over $250 million at the worldwide box office, but with a production budget of $185 million, plus $80 million to $100 million in global marketing and distribution fees, estimates suggested the film would need to bring in close to $450 million to break even.

Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.

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