Literary Depiction of Artificial Intelligence

Literary Depiction of Artificial Intelligence

Science and literature are poles apart from one another: one is based on fact while the other is based on the imagination.  Nevertheless, they share a very strong connection with each other.  Moreover, science fiction is a very popular and most loved genre of literature which attracts the attention of the readers all across the world. Today, we have many top computer engineering colleges in Maharashtra that teach AI as a technical subject. However, even before such colleges came to be, AI was widely depicted in literature and art.

Fictional stories have hugely contributed to the development of the most scientific inventions.  For instance; Mary Shelley’s famous novel Frankenstein (1818) wherein a scientist creates the monster by bringing life into a dead person.  Interestingly, when we look at the mythical stories or folk literature magic and mysticism has always been central part of the stories.

But scientific stories are futuristic stories, although for the present era they seem fictional but in near future it’s possible, for instance, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) James Bond was shown driving a car through remote control which has become now a reality with the automatic cars like Tesla.  Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to say that many of the ideas related to scientific development mushroomed in literature.

The futuristic stories started dominating the literary world at the advent of the 20th century.  The writers like Aldous Huxley construing correctly the impact of scientific development penned his most celebrated novel Brave New World (1935) wherein he described a future society based on technology likewise George Orwell’s 1984 is also futuristic novel but it more talks about the misuse of technology by Political Class to control the society.

But it was Czech playwright Karel Capek who for the first time put forth the concept of Robot through his play Rossum’s Universal Robot (1920).  In this play Capek propounded the concept of Robots which will do all the works of humans.  Before the arrival of Artificial Intelligence all the attention of scientific research were focused on Robots and in many movies, we have seen Robots in one or other forms, such as, I Robots (2004), Transformer Series (2007-), Real Steel (2011), Enthiran (2010), Chappie (2015) are some of the very popular and successful movies made on Robots.

The first movie which depicted the power of AI was Eagle Eye (2012) and the recently released Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) which talks about the detrimental impact of the AI, which is called Entity in the movie.  Similarly, J.A.R.V.I.S. is a type of AI shown in the Avenger and Iron Man series, this, J.A.R.V.I.S. simply stands for “Just a Rather Very Intelligent System”.  Nevertheless, most of the movies and novels portray Artificial Intelligence or Robots negatively while describing the futuristic society.

Unlike other futuristic movies, Tom Hanks’ Finch (2021) has shown a strong bond between a Robot and its Creator.  The movie was successful in depicting the positive side of the Robots, they can also have human emotions like affection and care.

It was famous scientist Alan Turning who first developed the concept of computer and used the concept of “Machine Intelligence” in his book Computer Machinery and Intelligence (1950).  The world Machine Intelligence later on became Artificial Intelligence.  Since the birth of AI many institutions are investing hugely in the development of the technology, this has gathered speed in the recent times, post covid world.

But the many writers and directors are concerned about the one thing and that is “Can a machine think like Humans? Can it make decisions based on emotions and logic? Can we be successful in inculcating human emotions in AI?” Because for now AI is just an unemotional, logical and neutral machine which shows the results on the availability of data.

New inventions have played a seminal role in human progression.  Like ‘Fire and Wheel’, which changed human existence in the very competitive food chain system where humans were the weakest.  Similarly, AI will change human life upside down, but no one is sure about these unforeseen changes, hence there is concern and worry about AI, thus negative depiction through the literature.

The big question that haunts all the scientists is that will the AI impact the natural thinking ability of humans, if humans become over dependent on AI for answers? It is the duty of the best computer engineering colleges in India to instill morality and humanity in students so that they create ethically-backed AI tools and technology for human use. Therefore, we will have to wait for some years to see the real impact of AI on the human world.

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