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James Cameron Sounds the Alarm on Artificial Intelligence and Unveils a ‘Terminator’ for the 21st Century

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Opening Insights: Let Me Entertain You

People ask me, 'Will the machines ever win against humanity?' I say, 'Look at people on their phones. The machines have already won.

Artificial Intelligence is not going to happen it is happening! Will it be pro-humanity or anti-humanity will be determined by our individual and collective participation and contribution to our lives, world and applications of technology. Hollywood is reigniting the conversation around AI, however, what is their intention: to prime us to sheepishly accept the coming revolution or empower us to embrace our human sentience?  

Informational Insights: Uncontrollable Robot Revolution

By all objective measures, The Terminator represents the most feared cautionary tale of modern Hollywood: a broken franchise. Thirty-three years after Arnold Schwarzenegger became an international star playing a killer robot sent from the future to kill the mother of the leader of a postapocalyptic rebellion, there have been four sequels (and one TV series), and the three films without the involvement of creator James Cameron have turned off fans and led the property to bounce from studio to studio and reboot to reboot. Terminator: Genisys, a 2015 installment made by financier David Ellison's Skydance Media (Ellison bought rights from his sister, Megan Ellison, who acquired them in a 2011 auction for $20 million), seemingly, uh, terminated the prospect of future films.

But this is Hollywood 2017, and no major franchise is truly dead. Ellison, along with distributor Paramount (Fox has international rights), has persuaded Cameron, who on Sept. 25 began filming four Avatar sequels, to shepherd a new Terminator for the era of Amazon drones, Facebook news bots and artificial intelligence-fueled anxiety. Calling it "a return to form that I believe fans of the franchise have been wanting since Terminator 2: Judgment Day," Ellison, 34, has for the past year worked secretly with Cameron and Deadpool's Tim Miller, who will direct the untitled sequel for a July 26, 2019, release. They assembled a writers room with scribes David Goyer, Charles Eglee, Josh Friedman and Justin Rhodes as well as Ellison, a lifelong Terminator fan (Cameron himself shows up once a week), and have crafted what they want to be a trilogy with Schwarzenegger, 70, and original star Linda Hamilton, 61, passing the torch to a young female lead.

The team hopes it's launching the equivalent of the new Star Wars trilogy — but with the most successful filmmaker of all time pulling the strings. To unveil their plans and explain why the Terminator franchise is still relevant amid 21st century fears, Cameron, 63, and Miller, 47, joined The Hollywood Reporter's editorial director Matthew Belloni for a discussion Sept. 19 on the Paramount lot in Hollywood.

One of the scientists we just met with recently, she said: "I used to be really, really optimistic, but now I'm just scared." Her position on it is probably that we can't control this. It has more to do with human nature. Putin recently said that the nation that perfects AI will dominate or conquer the world. So that pretty much sets the stage for "We wouldn't have done it, but now those guys are doing it, so now we have to do it and beat them to the punch." So now everybody's got the justification to essentially weaponize AI. I think you can draw your own conclusions from that.


Possibilities for Consideration: Exploiting Fear

  • Does Hollywood seek to exploit our fears and vulnerabilities or empower and educate us?
  • Does Hollywood seek to provide the resources to understand and deal with AI or merely accept the machine world we are heading towards?
  • How can we start learning from Hollywood, and engaging with the content, instead of just accepting the messages they share as entertainment?
  • How can we support ourselves and others in waking up to the realities of entertainment and rather than merely watching life unfold, become active solution driven participants?

Add Your Insight: Summoning the Demon

With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.

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Our world is experiencing an incredible revolution powered by technology that has used its tools to:

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