Machine Learning has been part of popular culture since the 1920s! We’ve compiled a list of the Top 15 Machine Learning movies; taking in big-budget Hollywood efforts, independent films and much more besides! Let us know what you think!

15. I, Robot (2004) ‘You know, somehow, “I told you so” doesn’t quite cut it’

I, Robot has all the hallmarks of a great Machine Learning film: a futuristic setting, a protagonist not completely at ease with the technology, and said technology which appears too good to be true. This is the sort of film that Machine Learning aficionados call ‘bad press’.

14. Blade Runner (1982) ‘Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave’

The main theme of this dark dystopian thriller is that while robots are able to murder humans freely and without conscience, they will not be able to understand us. Not overly reassuring though, and not surprising that Stephen Hawking is anxious about the future of AI.

13. Her (2013) ‘I think anybody who falls in love is a freak. It’s a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.’

‘Her’ takes the ordinary relationship between a person and their AI device to a whole new level. The combination of Joaquin Phoenix’s character’s loneliness and the mind-boggling realness of the AI creates an eerie romantic tension between the two that leaves you wondering whether this is what the future really holds for human love.

12. Short Circuit (1986) ‘Life is not a malfunction’

A more light-hearted view into the world of machine learning, Short Circuit’s loveable lead character bumbles from one adventure to another, truly endearing himself and the idea of artificial intelligence to an audience of all ages.

11. Tron (1982) ‘On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy’

Tron’s titular character is in fact not the protagonist but in fact, the independent security program that attempts to help Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn to escape the clutches of the Master Control Program when he is catapulted into the digital world. This Oscar-nominated masterpiece may look out of date by today’s standards, but it set the benchmark for big-budget sci-fi action flicks of the 1980s

10. Ex Machina (2015) ‘One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa.’

A film that definitely strikes as being more futuristic than fantasy, a young programmer gets the unique opportunity to spend a week at a remote mountain retreat of his billionaire CEO, interacting with the most intelligent artificial intelligence ever, housed in the body of a beautiful female robot. Usual mind-bending questions of ethics and morality aplenty in this 2015 release.

9. Robocop (1987) ‘Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!’

Robocop could have been just another big-budget robot film. However, the conflict between the laws under which this cyborg is governed and the fact he is haunted by the memories of his accident that lead to his creation brings into question the strength of technology vs the human psyche.

8. The Imitation Game (2014) ‘Think of it. A digital computer. Electrical brain’

This fascinating insight into one of Britain’s greatest mathematicians really brought the idea of machine learning into the public eye. While the majority of audiences might not have understood how the technology worked, this film has given machine learning enthusiasts a license to believe that one day, their work could have similarly life-changing significance.

7. Terminator 2 (1991) ‘No. I have to stay functional until my mission is complete. Then it doesn’t matter.’

Need we say any more? An absolute cult classic and most likely the reason that many machine learning enthusiasts are doing what they do today. Quotable lines throughout and excellent evidence of intelligent machine learning design, however futuristic the setting.

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ‘I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.’

When an alien monolith is discovered under the surface of the Moon, a space mission is devised to discover what, or who is behind it. This futuristic view of 2001 Earth was years ahead of its time in 1968 and is for this reason that it won an Oscar. The concept of machine learning being included also set this film apart from other sci-fi films in this era and has cemented this film as a cult classic.

5. Wall-E (2008) ‘I don’t want to survive. I want to live.’

Another heart-warming example, Wall-E blurs the line between futurism and fantasy with its adorable protagonist, whose original purpose of recycling litter on what remains of Earth is replaced by a human-like adoration of another robot. This is a film that makes you think, about the environment, the future, and about whether robots in years to come will love in the way humans do now.

4. Moon (2009) ‘I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be.’

2009’s Moon, much like Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’, relies on the link between a human’s loneliness in their own company and lack of interaction with other humans, and the prominence of artificial intelligence in their life. Moon scientist Sam spends a great deal of time talking to himself, to his plants, and to his computer, named GERTY. Towards the end of his time in space, he begins to realise the lack of human contact has had more of an effect on him than he ever could have realised.

3. Moneyball (2011) ‘I made one decision in my life based on money. And I swore I would never do it again.’

A rare film that both sports fans and maths lovers can enjoy together. When the Oakland baseball general manager realises they’re never going to progress with their best players being poached by bigger teams, he studies analytics to devise individual contracts for players that work out best for the player and for the team, much to the astonishment of the press and the board. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill lead the all-star cast.

2. Metropolis (1927) ‘There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.’

The original machine learning film, this film was ground-breaking at the time for its use of special effects and for its subject matter. In a dystopian society split between workers and planners, neither of whom know what the other does, one planner dares to become romantically involved with a worker. The worker in question believes in the coming of a saviour who will work out the differences between the workers and the planners and bring the two societies together.

1. The Matrix (1999) ‘This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes’

There was only really one clear choice when it came to it. The best Machine Learning film ever is The Matrix, a film that has had people captivated in awe, and often confusion, since its release in 1999. When a computer programmer and hacker called Neo is approached by a mysterious group in the ether promising him the truth of his world, in exchange for his help overthrowing the Matrix. Little more needs saying, apart from that this won four very well-deserved Oscars.


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