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James Cameron Speaks Out On AI Risk, ‘I warned you guys in 1984!’

The Terminator director says, ‘The weaponisation of AI is the biggest danger’

Oscar-winning Canadian filmmaker James Cameron says he agrees with experts who warn of the dangers of the rapid advancements of AI and that the technology poses a significant risk to humanity. 

Cameron directed and co-wrote the 1984 sci-fi film The Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg assassin in a world where AI has taken control and seeks to exterminate the human race. He was asked by CTV News to share his thoughts on AI. 

Several prominent AI pioneers, often referred to as the ‘godfathers of AI,’ have issued cautionary statements emphasising the urgency of regulating the rapidly advancing technology to prevent it from becoming a larger threat to humanity.

“I absolutely share their concern,” said Cameron. “I warned you guys in 1984, and you didn’t listen.” The director went on to say that it’s important to evaluate the people who are building and working on AI and whether they’re doing it for profit “teaching greed” or as a form of defence “teaching paranoia”. 

“I think the weaponisation of AI is the biggest danger,” he adds. “I think that we will get into the equivalent of a nuclear arms race with AI and if we don’t build it, the other guys are for sure going to build it – and so then it’ll escalate.

“You could imagine an AI in a combat theatre, the whole thing just being fought by the computers at a speed humans can no longer intercede, and you have no ability to de-escalate.”

AI replacing writers 

The use of AI and its need for regulation has become a contentious issue in the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes in the US. This time, the unions are advocating for safeguards that’ll protect performers from having their likeness and art exploited by AI technology without their consent, while the writers assert that studios should not be permitted to replace them with AI for scriptwriting purposes.

However, Cameron doesn’t believe the nascent technology will get to the level of completely replacing writers anytime soon saying, “It’s never an issue of who wrote it; it’s a question of, ‘is it a good story?’”

“I just don’t personally believe that a disembodied mind that’s just regurgitating what other embodied minds have said — about the life that they’ve had, about love, about lying, about fear, about mortality — and just put it all together into a word salad and then regurgitate it… I don’t believe that has something that’s going to move an audience,” said Cameron.

When asked whether he’s open to working on an AI-produced script, Cameron said, “Let’s wait 20 years and if an AI wins an Oscar for Best Screenplay, I think we’ve got to take them seriously.” 

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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