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Could M3GAN Actually Happen IRL?

A queen named M3GAN watching out the window

If you haven’t seen M3GAN yet, be warned: this article will contain minor spoilers. So get on it.

For those who have seen M3GAN, the first half of the film might have got you wanting a doll of your own—until all the murdering that is. Indeed, AI companions are not new to anyone who has an Alexa, or uses Siri on their phone. So how far away are we from being able to gift a real-life M3GAN to our kids?

Katie Darling, a leading expert in tech ethics and a research scientist at MIT Media Lab, spoke to the Guardian on this very subject. However, if you’re keen to welcome a walking, talking doll to your family, you might be disappointed by what she had to say.

“I don’t think we’re going to have something that’s on that level of sophisticated AI in the next decade or two,” Darling said. “People have completely skewed expectations of what robotics can do at this point in time, thanks to movies like this.”

Moreover, Darling had warnings about how much we are already welcoming AI into our lives.

“I’m not concerned about what I saw in the trailer happening in real life – the AI becoming too intelligent and not listening to commands,” Darling said. “I am concerned about whether AI should be used to replace human ability in relationships—and the answer is no.”

Particularly when it comes to kids, using AI to replicate actual human relationships is socially and emotionally dangerous. While we can teach robots to do some things (like cook food, set alarms, or even answer basic questions), they can replace actual social interaction effectively. What’s more, giving up this element of socializing to a machine just places further power into the hands of major global corporations.

“If a child has a relationship with this type of doll, corporate capitalism could hold that relationship hostage,” Darling explained. “They could say: ‘Now we’re doing a software upgrade to the robot that costs $10,000,’ and it lulls access if you don’t pay that subscription. There are so many ways companies could manipulate people with robots.”

We already hand over much of our data and personal information to companies like Meta, Google, and so many more that we don’t even realize. The reality is that if you have any sort of online presence in 2023 (which is basically a necessity in order just to get a job or open a bank account), then you will be giving up some portion of your identity and data to a company. While this might be unavoidable, inviting in the level of access that would be required for a doll like M3GAN (even if the technology was possible) would surely be a mistake.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)

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