Christopher Nolan Comments On AI & Its Uses As A “Powerful Tool”

Christopher Nolan shares his nuanced perspective on artificial intelligence amidst concerns about the recent advancements in the technology. The visionary auteur known for writing and directing The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, and Tenet has another highly-anticipated film, Oppenheimer, releasing next month. In addition to featuring stunning visuals, Nolan’s films often tackle complex and thought-provoking ideas like perception, time, identity, ethics, and human nature.

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In an interview with Wired, Nolan shared his thoughts on the important issue of artificial intelligence. The director claims that risks associated with AI have been apparent for a long time, though journalists have only started to care about them now because chatbot programs could replace them. The real danger that Nolan sees with AI is believing it is all-powerful or attributing godlike characteristics to it. If humans can responsibly use AI as a tool, Nolan thinks it can be a very powerful one. Read what he said below:

The growth of AI in terms of weapons systems and the problems that it is going to create have been very apparent for a lot of years. Few journalists bothered to write about it. Now that there’s a chatbot that can write an article for a local newspaper, suddenly it’s a crisis. If we endorse the view that AI is all-powerful, we are endorsing the view that it can alleviate people of responsibility for their actions—militarily, socio­economically, whatever. The biggest danger of AI is that we attribute these godlike characteristics to it and therefore let ourselves off the hook. I don’t know what the mythological underpinnings of this are, but throughout history there’s this tendency of human beings to create false idols, to mold something in our own image and then say we’ve got godlike powers because we did that. I feel that AI can still be a very powerful tool for us. I’m optimistic about that. I really am. But we have to view it as a tool. The person who wields it still has to maintain responsibility for wielding that tool. If we accord AI the status of a human being, the way at some point legally we did with corporations, then yes, we’re going to have huge problems.


How AI Is Responsible For The Writers’ Strike

Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan on the picket line for the writers strike outside of Paramount Pictures.

The director’s comments come as part of a larger debate in Hollywood about using AI amidst the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, an organization that Nolan is a part of. In addition to residuals from streaming services, one of the main focuses of the labor dispute is AI programs such as ChatGPT. Writers are fighting to ensure these programs are used as a tool to help research or facilitate ideas, and not to replace them, which Nolan seems to wholly agree with. While he has many concerns, Nolan also sees the potential in harnessing AI as a powerful tool.

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It’s no surprise that Nolan would see the potential in AI and defend the advancing technology. As a filmmaker, he’s always embraced and pioneered new technology, including being the first to employ high-resolution IMAX cameras in 2008’s The Dark Knight, the first major Hollywood film to do so. Continuing this trend, Oppenheimer was the first film to shoot with IMAX black-and-white analog photography. Christopher Nolan is always eager to embrace and develop new technology, but in the case of AI, he believes a balanced and responsible approach is paramount.

Source: Wired

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