Ridley Scott: ‘We Have to Lock Down AI’ — ‘It’s a Technical Hydrogen Bomb’

Director Ridley Scott attends the "Napoleon" premiere at the El Prado Museum on November 2
Borja B. Hojas/WireImage via Getty

Director Ridley Scott is not only worried that artificial intelligence (AI) will be a problem for the film industry, he thinks it is disastrous for humanity itself.

As AI continues to be developed by a growing number of companies and researchers, Scott wants to see it tamped down, not developed and grown.

The famed director of hit films including Alien and Blade Runner, whose film Napoleon is now in theaters, told Rolling Stone magazine that he is terrified by AI and is afraid that it will have negative impacts on society.

Scott, 85, insisted that “We have to lock down AI.” But he worried that it is already too far out of the box, and added, ” And I don’t know how you’re gonna lock it down.”

“They have these discussions in the government, ‘How are we gonna lock down AI?’ Are you f—ing kidding? You’re never gonna lock it down. Once it’s out, it’s out,” he exclaimed.

He went on to make a dire prediction.

“If I’m designing AI, I’m going to design a computer whose first job is to design another computer that’s cleverer than the first one,” he explained. “And when they get together, then you’re in trouble, because then it can take over the whole electrical-monetary system in the world and switch it off. That’s your first disaster. It’s a technical hydrogen bomb. Think about what that would mean.”

Scott noted that he addressed a similar point in his film Blade Runner.

“I always thought the world would end up being run by two corporations, and I think we’re headed in that direction. Tyrell Corp in ‘Blade Runner’ probably owned 45-50% of the world, and one of his playthings was creating replication through DNA. Tyrell [played by Joe Turkel] thinks he’s God and in the first ‘Blade Runner’ has made a Nexus female. And the Nexus female will have a limited lifespan because AI will get dangerous.”

“They really have to not allow this, and I don’t know how you can control it,” he added.

“There’s something non-creative about data,” Scott concluded. “You’re gonna get a painting created by a computer, but I like to believe – and I’m saying this without confidence – it won’t work with anything particularly special that requires emotion or soul. With that said, I’m still worried about it.”

Ridley Scott is not the only film director to worry that AI will drag down both Hollywood and humanity.

Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan joined Scott in worrying that AI will put humanity in jeopardy and recently warned that putting AI in charge of our military was a “terrifying” idea.

“Applied to AI, that’s a terrifying possibility. Terrifying,” Nolan said in July. “Not least because, AI systems will go into defensive infrastructure ultimately. They’ll be in charge of nuclear weapons. To say that that is a separate entity from the person wielding, programming, putting that AI to use, then we’re doomed. It has to be about accountability. We have to hold people accountable for what they do with the tools that they have.”

Beetlejuice director Tim Burton echoed Scott’s idea that AI removes the “soul” from art and insisted that it is “like a robot taking your humanity.”

“What it does is it sucks something from you,” he said in September. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”

James Cameron, director of the Terminator series of doomsday movie, even pointed to his own films and said he has been warning about AI for 40 years.

“I think the weaponization of AI is the biggest danger,” he told Canada’s CTV News in July. “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 theater, the whole thing just being fought by the computers at a speed humans can no longer intercede, and you have no ability to deescalate.”

“I warned you guys in 1984, and you didn’t listen,” he exclaimed.

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