TERMINATOR Warned Against AI in 1984: ‘You Didn’t Listen’

Photo from James Cameron’s Instagram

TERMINATOR Warned Against AI in 1984: ‘You Didn’t Listen’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Academy Award Winning director, James Cameron, has reflected on his film TERMINATOR and believes that it warned the world about artificial intelligence.  

In a recent interview with CTV News, Cameron recalled, “I warned you guys in 1984, and you didn’t listen.” 

Many artificial intelligence innovators have recently voiced concerns over the need to slow the rapid acceleration of advancing technology.  

Cameron “absolutely share[s] their concern.”   

“I think the weaponization of AI is the biggest danger,” he continued. “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 deescalate,” he added.  

The director also discussed the impact AI could have on the entertainment industry.

Some believe that AI could replace writers, but for Cameron, “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 have something that’s going to move an audience,” he explained. 

Concerns over AI in entertainment are one aspect the ongoing strikes in Hollywood hope to address.

Spencer Van Dyk of CTV News reported, “The unions are arguing that performers need protections against their images and art being used by AI technology without their consent, and the writers say studios shouldn’t be allowed to replace them with AI to write scripts.” 

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher added, “If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines.” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger, 75, who starred in TERMINATOR, praised Cameron for his predictions about AI, which has now “become a reality.”  

“Today, everyone is frightened of it, of where this is gonna go,” the actor stated. “And in this movie, in TERMINATOR, we talk about the machines becoming self-aware, and they take over.” 

“Now over the course of decades, it has become a reality. So it’s not any more fantasy or kind of futuristic. It is here today,” Schwarzenegger said. 

Movieguide® previously reported on how AI in the entertainment industry has influenced the strikes in Hollywood:

Similar to the writers, the SAG is also protesting the use of A.I. to replace their jobs. 

“People worry, in abstract, about A.I. replacing workers but here it is, it’s actually happening,” Taplin said. “[Studios] don’t want to have to pay for extras anymore, so they could have a scene that has 5,000 A.I. extras in the background.” 

“The entire business model has been changed because of streaming, digital, and A.I.,” SAG President, Fran Drescher explained. “At some point, you have to say ‘No, we’re not going to take this anymore…’” 

Prior to the SAG strike, the AMPTP offered the actors a deal that included the highest percentage increase in pay minimums in 35 years alongside a “groundbreaking” proposal for A.I. protections. The deal, however, did not satisfy SAG leadership. 

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