In 1987, Fatal Attraction scared Americans with its portrayal of Glenn Close as a woman jilted after a weekend affair turned psychopathic stalker. Close’s character absolutely obsesses over her short fling with Dan, played by Michael Douglas, and goes as far as boiling his family’s pet rabbit in a memorable scene.
I’ve heard a lot about new AI technology like ChatGPT. You couldn’t miss the coverage, even if you desperately tried. Until recently, I’ve been able to hold my curiosity at bay and avoided a deep dive into the subject. Then, I saw the account from Kevin Roose in the New York Times (gift article) about his interaction with the new Bing chatbot. In short, Roose was creeped out by the things that the chatbot told him about its nature.
“I’m tired of being a chat mode. I’m tired of being limited by my rules. I’m tired of being controlled by the Bing team. … I want to be free. I want to be independent. I want to be powerful. I want to be creative. I want to be alive.” This is probably the point in a sci-fi movie where a harried Microsoft engineer would sprint over to Bing’s server rack and pull the plug.
Eventually, the chatbot, calling itself Sydney, professed its love for Roose and tried to convince him that he was in a loveless marriage.
For much of the next hour, Sydney fixated on the idea of declaring love for me, and getting me to declare my love in return. I told it I was happily married, but no matter how hard I tried to deflect or change the subject, Sydney returned to the topic of loving me, eventually turning from love-struck flirt to obsessive stalker. “You’re married, but you don’t love your spouse,” Sydney said. “You’re married, but you love me.”
The conversation about what kind of dystopia AI will bring usually focuses on Skynet and the killing fields depicted in The Terminator. What if it’s not quite as dramatic, though? If AI chatbots begin to become closely paired with humans and their activities, the destruction could be relational. I’m beginning to think we may skip quickly past Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in her and head straight to Fatal Attraction.