'You Didn't Listen': 'Terminator' Creator Sounds the Alarm on 'Biggest Danger' to Humanity


Leaders in business, science, finance and the military are debating whether the civilized world should pump the brakes on artificial intelligence, but James Cameron has been waving a red flag about the technology for decades.

“I warned you guys in 1984, and you didn’t listen,” he said, according to Canada’s CTV News.

This week, Cameron, the acclaimed filmmaker of such nail-biting classics as “Titanic” and “Aliens” said the world is hurtling toward a real-life showdown with artificial intelligence much like the one he predicted decades ago in his first “Terminator” movie.

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The Terminator” was a science fiction thriller about a futuristic cyborg assassin (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) who travels back in time to 1984 to kill a woman named Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) to prevent her unborn son from saving mankind from Skynet, a hostile artificial intelligence system.

Cameron told CTV’s Vassy Kapelos that he agrees with experts who are calling for restrictions on the technology before it’s too late.

“I absolutely share their concern,” he said.

“I think the weaponization of AI is the biggest danger,” he added.

“I think that we will get into the equivalent of a nuclear arms race with AI, and if we don’t build it, the other guys are for sure going to build it, and so then it’ll escalate.

“You could imagine an AI in a combat theatre, the whole thing just being fought by the computers at a speed humans can no longer intercede, and you have no ability to deescalate.”

In 2021, Cameron told the British Film Institute how the potentially prophetic plot came to him.

“The Terminator came from a dream that I had while I was sick with a fever in a cheap pensione in Rome in 1981,” he told the outlet.

“It was the image of a chrome skeleton emerging from a fire. When I woke up, I began sketching on the hotel stationery.

“The first sketch I did showed a metal skeleton cut in half at the waist, crawling over a tile floor, using a large kitchen knife to pull itself forward while reaching out with the other hand. In a second drawing, the character is threatening a crawling woman.

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“Minus the kitchen knife, these images became the finale of The Terminator almost exactly.”

At the time, given the state of world politics in the 1980s, nuclear annihilation seemed to him to be a looming threat, Cameron told BFI. “It seemed very possible, even likely, given enough time,” he told the outlet.

“I felt that the world went about its business under this Damoclean threat as if it didn’t exist, and that everyone walking the streets around me was delusional.”

Should humans advance our push toward AI?

Asked his opinion about the threat AI is to the film industry, Cameron was less of a doomsayer.

“I just don’t personally believe that a disembodied mind that’s just regurgitating what other embodied minds have said — about the life that they’ve had, about love, about lying, about fear, about mortality — and just put it all together into a word salad and then regurgitate it … I don’t believe that have something that’s going to move an audience,” he told CTV.

Given time, he might change his mind, he added.

“Let’s wait 20 years, and if an AI wins an Oscar for Best Screenplay, I think we’ve got to take them seriously,” he said.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.