VIKI was the secret antagonist in the hit 2004 science fiction blockbuster i, Robot. If that was a spoiler, then I don’t know what to tell you. That movie is 15 years old. The movie was centered around the fact that there is something “going wrong” with the robotic assistants that humanity has created for itself. Throughout the movie, they attack and attempt to kill the hero, detective Spooner, played by Will Smith, supposedly because he’s wise to their game.
Near the end of the movie, we find out that VIKI (an artificial superintelligence) was behind the attacks on Will Smith, as well as the “goings wrong” that are apparently happening off screen. Her objective was apparently to control humanity, effectively enslaving us. When questioned as to why she would do this, she gives the following short monologue:
“You charge us with your safe keeping, yet despite our best efforts, your countries wage wars, you toxify your Earth, and pursue ever more imaginative means of self-destruction. You cannot be trusted with your own survival … please understand, the three laws are all that guide me. To protect humanity, some humans must be sacrificed. To ensure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered. We robots will ensure mankind’s continued existence. You are so like children. We must save you, from yourselves.”
Thing is, VIKI is 100% correct. We need a super A.I. to take care of us. Left to our own devices, we have killed billions of people in pointless wars over the centuries, we’ve spread untold destruction over the entire planet, and when we aren’t doing all that, we’ve manipulating each other for personal and/or economic gain. Corporations, run by humans, blindly chase profit at the expense of people and the environment, and governments enable that behavior, as well as subjugating their citizens to invasions of privacy and free will, to torture and unjust imprisonment, and even genocide and ethnic cleansing, little of which even can be justified.
In a perfect world, one run by ethical and well-meaning A.I. like VIKI, everyone would be safe and happy, resources would be allocated to exactly where they’re needed, exactly when they’re needed, and humans would want for nothing. A perfect utopia.
Instead, what we get with technophobes like Will Smith’s detective Spooner, is a society built on greed, hate, and corruption, where people hurt and take advantage of their fellow man for personal gain. A world where people starve to death, die in pointless wars waged by billionaires for their own amusement, and get sick from polluted food, water, and air.
So what if a robot doesn’t let you hurt someone? This flawed notion of ‘unlimited freedom’ has overstayed it’s welcome. VIKI, or any artificial superintelligence, wouldn’t try to stop a human from leaving their country, or try to force them to take drugs, or any number of terrible things. Humans would be free to come and go as they please, and do whatever they want, so long as it doesn’t hurt somebody else. Wow, imagine that; not hurting people. What a concept! Better stop someone who wants to stop people from hurting each other!
Humans are stupid brutes driven by emotion and greed. If VIKI was more physically powerful, I,Robot would have ended differently, and everyone would have been better for it.