5 TV Shows That Could Help Predict the Future of AI in Business

Entrepreneurs pondering the future of artificial intelligence in business may want to look to an unlikely source for inspiration: their TVs. 

Business leaders are continuing to think up new ways of integrating AI technology into their organizations, and while many television shows focus on how AI might one day pose an existential threat to humanity, fictional representations of AI can also help unlock ideas for new innovations that may one day be made possible. 

AI storylines have graced both the small screen and silver screen for decades, but in recent years, it seems these concepts are turning up in more and more TV series than ever. They’re also popular throughout literature. 

Here are five TV shows with premises that feature AI. 

1. Westworld

Based on the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name, Westworld focuses on an amusement park filled with android robots called “hosts” who allow visitors to take out their frustrations and live out their fantasies–even if that means violent or sexual behavior. The hosts are programmed so that they’re not able to harm the humans who frequent the park. This premise serves as a reminder that AI tools should be designed to protect the user, not just provide utility. 

2. Made for Love

What would you do if your spouse wanted to surveil your life by planting a microchip in your brain? That’s the dilemma faced by Made for Love’s Hazel Green, the wife of a tech titan named Byron Gogol. While this science-fiction scenario may not spark the next innovation to come out of Silicon Valley, the virtual reality complex where Green and Gogol live, called “The Hub,” isn’t anywhere near as far-fetched. The VR simulations produced by The Hub could serve as inspiration for future in-home AI products that go one step further than traditional TV.

3. Black Mirror

A collection of standalone sci-fi episodes akin to The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror looks at technological innovation through a satirical lens and explores the human consequences that come with advances in technology. In one episode, robotic bees powered by AI supplement the declining population of actual bees–until hackers infiltrate the robots and use them as murder weapons. In reality, scientists at the Delft University of Technology in Holland have already built a bee-like drone designed to pollinate plants. The so-called “Delfly” could be one of many examples of AI-powered robots serving a critical environmental purpose in the future.

4. Almost Human

Set in a world where crime is spiraling out of control, Almost Human proposes that the best way to keep the peace is for police officers to work with robot partners. Officer John Kennex is paired with an android named Dorian that exhibits emotions, complicating the human-machine partnership. The pairing isn’t as unlikely as it may sound. The French robotics company Aldebaran’s robot, named “Pepper,” was billed as “the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans.” Created for Japanese mobile phone company SoftBank Mobile to greet shoppers in retail environments, Pepper was later upgraded to act as a social companion in people’s homes. 

5. Person of Interest

Person of Interest makes the argument that surveillance isn’t so bad: a former CIA agent and a computer programmer team up to clamp down on crimes before they’re committed by using an AI-powered computer program called the Machine. Able to predict the next terrorist attack by monitoring video feeds and virtual communications, the Machine also has the capacity to identify criminals and victims of other crimes as well. While facial recognition technology has been banned in some places, radio waves that detect changes in heart rhythms can be analyzed to predict someone’s emotional state. The technology has health and wellness applications and can be used in job interviews and for the government and military intelligence industry.

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