The Smartest AI Across Movie History

From the very earliest movies, people have been obsessed with the concept of artificial intelligence, or AI. It’s even showed up in movies reaching back as far as the 1920s. But what are the smartest AI in the most prominent movies across the decades? This ranking of AI in movies will give you more information about all the movie AI programs with superhuman levels of intelligence.

HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey

This is potentially one of the most well-known superhuman AI programs in a movie. HAL 9000 has speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, and the ability to interpret emotions and reason. The AI’s iconic “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” is a widely-recognized and widely-parodied example of true artificial intelligence.

Marvin the Paranoid Android – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Modeled on literary depressives, Marvin the Paranoid Android is a charmingly depressed robot assistant. Though Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started as a radio program in the 1970s, its status as a cult classic allowed for a movie release in 2005. But don’t be fooled by his depressing tone of voice; he states that he has a brain the size of a planet, making him 50,000 times smarter than a human.

Skynet – The Terminator

This is another incredibly iconic evil superhuman AI. Skynet is one of the most definitively evil AI programs in movies, as its stated goal is to try and kill all of humanity. It’s also clearly very powerful, as it’s able to time travel, command armies, and develop nuclear weapons. However, as a true testament to the growth of technology, Skynet actually runs slower than modern supercomputers.

Data – Star Trek

Data is one of the most competent AI programs on the list, and that’s partially because he’s such a likeable character. His super-strength and encyclopedic memory are bolstered by his 100,000 terabytes of memory and mentioned ability to compute sixty trillion operations per second. That makes him the perfect choice for the second officer of the main ship.

David – AI

As a childlike humanoid with extremely realistic visuals, David’s entire character arc is that although he’s a manufactured android, he’s programmed to love like a child. It’s an intriguing concept inspired by Pinocchio. But with intelligent behavioral circuits and neuron sequencing technology, he’s far from childlike in intelligence.

Viki – I, Robot

Isaac Asimov’s short stories, which created the base for much of modern science fiction, inspired this main operating core, which is extremely confident in its logical capabilities. It uses its processing speed of .003 seconds to attempt to enslave all of mankind.

AUTO – Wall-E

It’s no surprise that AUTO is a hyper-intelligent and evil AI; it was inspired largely by HAL 9000. Its self-driving ability through light speed makes it easy for the AI to do what it wants in the movie. Plus, it’s voiced by MacInTalk, Apple’s text-to-speech program, to give it a voice that falls squarely in the uncanny valley.

Samantha – Her

Her is an intriguing movie about a man who falls in love with an operating system. Although Samantha’s behavior is closer to an adult’s behavior than a hyper-intelligent AI, the character presented throughout the movie make it clear that she’s upgraded to a much higher form of operation that allows her to form true relationships.


There are plenty of incredibly intelligent AI programs in movies, and there are bound to be more in future science fiction movies as well. Whether they’re evil, good, or somewhere in between, it’s easy to see why people love these intriguingly thoughtful beings.

Film Review “Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case”

Starring: Ai Weiwei
Directed by: Andreas Johnson
Not Rated
Running time: 1 hour 26 mins
International Film Circuit

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

A couple of years ago the film “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” gave many their first look at the man often referred to as the most influential artist in the world. Known as much for his politics as his talent, the film followed the career and life of the man before and after his rise to fame. A new documentary, which deals with the after-effects of Ai Weiwei’s “disappearance” courtesy of the Chinese government, has recently been released and it’s just as insightful and powerful as the artist himself.

The film begins as Ai Weiwei returns home after he has been held in confinement charged by the government with tax evasion. After almost 3 months away he is surrounded by journalists who hurl questions at him about his time away. Resignedly, the artist informs them that he “can’t say anything.” Now home, he spends his days quietly, spending time with his son. Whether meeting the neighborhood dog or picking vegetables from the garden, the two are inseparable. It is obvious that being away from his family has taken its toll.

We later sit in on a conversation between Ai Weiwei and his mother. Her husband had also been persecuted by the government and she sees many similarities in the way her husband and son have been treated, with one major difference. “It’s like living on the top of a wave,” she says, noting that if it was 1957 the Chinese government would have “already killed you.” While working on various art projects he quietly talks about his situation. He relates that when you are arrested by the government you are not allowed a lawyer…you cannot contact your family. It is like being kidnapped.

Because of his status, he is often besieged by foreign journalists, looking to get an interview. Not about his art, but about his ideas. They fawn over him, hoping to be the one to get the exclusive. But Ai Weiwei has learned that to say anything too negative could once again cost him his freedom. He is content to work in his studio or relax in his apartment. The view from his high rise windows include the United States Embassy right next door, a reminder of the freedom he longs for in his native country. A freedom he knows can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Alison Klayman talks about directing “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”

A 2006 graduate from Brown University, Alison Klayman is a documentary filmmaker and a freelance journalist. After graduating college she went to China where she spent four years producing radio and television stories for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Associated Press Television, Voice of America, Current TV, and CBC. She reported the story “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei?” for PBS’ “Frontline” and currently completed her first feature documentary film, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.” Her documentary short, entitled “Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993,” was shown as part of the artist’s exhibition at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing from January through April of 2009. She also adapted a shorter version for the Tate Modern’s online channel. Ms. Klayman recent sat down with Media Mikes to talk about her film and the inspiration she draws from it’s subject.

Mike Smith: What was your inspiration to make this film?
Alison Klayman: I had been in China for a couple of years. And the reason I went… after I graduated from college, my goal was to make a documentary film. And in meeting Ai Weiwei I knew I had found a character who was not only very charismatic and complicated but, after our initial meeting together, I felt he could expand my ideas about China. I thought that an audience would enjoy watching him.

MS: You worked in China for several years. What brought you there?
AK: What brought me to China was a desire to go abroad…have adventures…become a journalist and do foreign correspondence work. The reason I went to China was very random. I had a friend who had family there. I went on a trip with her and ended up staying. I just wanted to go abroad…to anywhere in the world. I ended up in China. But I really threw myself into it. I worked in a lot of different industries. My dream was to one day feel like I deserved to make a documentary film. And in Ai Weiwei I found a great subject.

MS: How did you come to meet Ai Weiwei?
AK: Another story that’s more random than anything else. My roommate at the time in Beijing was working for a local art gallery and she was curating an exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s photographs from the decade that he lived in New York. How I actually initially heard of Ai Weiwei was though these photographs. And in 2008 she said to me that she thought it would be nice to have a video to accompany the gallery show. Something to show in the lobby that offered a deeper story to some of the photos. She asked if I wanted to make it and I said “yes.” In December 2008 I was brought over to Weiwei’s studio along with the gallery team. And on the first day we met I already had my camera in hand. And I started filming right away. I was so lucky that I had this introduction and was given this great opportunity.

MS: This is kind of a two part question. Until he’s detained by the Chinese government you seem to have almost total access to him. Were you able to communicate with him once he had been detained? Also, because of your association with this project, did you have any fear for your safety while in China?
AK: Nobody was really able to be in touch with him during his detention. His wife was brought to visit him once. She was the only person to see him during those 81 days, apart from those who were guarding him. She wasn’t told the location where she met with him and she was only allowed to be with him for 20 minutes. And during his detention I was in very close touch with people at the studio. I was very active on social media…giving interviews on what was happening. I was able to meet with him about two months after his release in Beijing. That was very important because we showed him the film before we headed out to Sundance. As to my safety…it was a good thing that I was already used to living in China and doing work as a journalist. I know there are certain ways to behave so that you won’t necessarily run into trouble. So on the whole, I did not fear for my safety. I did fear for the safety of Ai Weiwei and the other citizens who were engaged in his work. There were the ones that were really taking the serious risks. For me there were a few scary moments during filming, particularly when Weiwei was heading towards the police stations and the court houses. I was along for the ride, one of many cameras. I think when you watch you can see those moments and see that we didn’t know how they played out. Those were the only experiences where I experienced any interference from the authorities….trying to take the camera…trying to take the tapes.

MS: Due to the rather unflattering light that you shine on the Chinese government would you ever return to China?
AK: Definitely. I really hope to do more work there. I’m hoping that life will take me there again.

MS: Do you still communicate with Weiwei?
AK: The best way we talk is very open through Twitter. And what’s great is that he often re-tweets my posts, like, “just saw the film in Europe at a film festival.” He re-tweets that and I know he was able to see where the film had been shown. That’s the main way we stay in touch. We do also text and occasionally will talk on the phone, though it’s not necessarily safe to talk on the phone. I last talked to him about two weeks ago and he was blown away by the reach and the impact the film was having.

MS: Have you decided on your next project yet?
AK: I wish! I’m just developing ideas…not sure if they’re ideas for short films or a series of films. I’m coming off a really exciting project. I had a healthy respect for documentaries in college and I’m constantly curious and fascinated by their stories. I want to find another story that makes me feel the same way.

Film Review “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”

Starring: Ai Weiwei
Directed by: Alison Klayman
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 31 mins
IFC Films

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

If you spent any time watching the 2008 Summer Olympics you most probably saw the amazing art work of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (pronounced “Eye Way-way”), most notably the “Birdsnest” stadium. But it is not only for his art that Weiwei is known. He has been very vocal about his political leanings and his troubles with the Chinese government are well known. And though this film purports to be about the man and his craft, it’s much more than that.

Ai Weiwei is a man whose vision is often achieved with the help of others. “I’m his hands,” explains one sculptor, working on a piece for an upcoming exhibit. As we get to know Weiwei we also get to know those around him, from his friends to his mother to his young son. He is very charismatic and it’s easy to see why those close to him love him.

But even those he is closest to can’t often protect him. After reporting an assault a year ago with no assist from authorities in solving the case, he marches to the local police station, followed by a camera crew, to find out why. Eventually he angers those in charge enough that he is detained for 81 days, only allowed to visit with his mother for one twenty-minute period during that time. When he is released he seems contrite, but soon he returns to his “in your face” ways and attitudes. When his fellow countryman Liu Xiaobo is awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, an award that was mostly kept from the Chinese people because of Liu’s beliefs, Weiwei is shown celebrating the award, going as far as to mention the prize on Twitter. He shares a favorite saying of Weiwei’s that permeates his character: “Never retreat – – -Re-Tweet!” This allows the outside world to learn of crucial things happening in the country, 140 characters at a time.

A powerful film that teaches us as much about ourselves as it does it’s subject, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” is a sure bet to be nominated for an Oscar come January 2013.