Aside from the fantastic 90s style fight scenes and latex costumes, the Matrix has a lot to say about societies current relationship with technology and AI. Although we are not currently being held captive and used as batteries by a superior form of AI, AI development and technology can either be seen as beneficial or potentially harmful to human life.
As The Matrix exemplified the latter, we should really reconsider the usage of AI or greater technological advances in our life. Although some items such as iPhones can make life go by with more ease, the increase of AI, especially in areas of national defence and security can be concerning.
The Matrix, a late film of the 90s, follows protagonist Thomas Anderson, or Neo on his quest to figure out what the Matrix is. In meeting Morpheus and Trinity, he soon realises that his reality is actually a computer program set up by a superior AI machine race bent on using the human race as batteries for energy. On this journey, audiences are captivated by the narrative to see if Neo is the One who can set all of mankind free.
In watching the Matrix, I reflected on one of my semesters in university of which I studied autonomous weapons. With TV series such as Black Mirror becoming more popular, I think this topic is becoming increasingly more concerning when we talk about war. So what happens when we remove the human element from war?
Under Obama’s presidency, drones strikes became increasingly with 563 strikes used by Obama in contrast to 57 used under the Bush Administration. Obama mainly used drones in countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. However what we often forget is that many civilians are often caught in the crossfire. In these countries, anywhere between 384 to 807 civilians were killed as a result.
I won’t disregard the fact that this was largely due to the Obama administrations fight against al Qaeda and that under Obama, Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda was killed. However, I believe we must consider the consequences of using technology and AI in warfare as without the human element, the human cost cannot ever to truly felt.