Artificial intelligence has been a topic of fascination for film and television since the earliest appearances of robots on our screens, bringing with them questions about ethics, sentience, and the long-term fate of humanity. This article explores depictions of artificial intelligence on screen from a thematic rather than chronological viewpoint. Themes explored include the popular sci-fi trope of robot rebellion, androids as worker/slaves, and intimate relationships between humans and AI. The article also raises philosophical questions of why we wish to create robots in our own image, and what AI sentience, in both android bodies and more elusive disembodied forms, could look like. A range of films and television series—from the Terminator franchise to HBO's Westworld—are used to unpack humanity's dreams and nightmares of how AI could shape our future.
Rebekah Brammer teaches English as a Second Language in Brisbane, Australia. She has studied drama, film and television, and applied linguistics and holds an MA from the University of New England. She has been a published writer of film and television criticism since 2008, with more than twenty articles published in the Australian journals Metro and Screen Education.