Science fiction books and movies have several distinct sub-genres. One of them deals with computers that can think for themselves and often have dangerous or deadly consequences when interacting with humans. Usually, movies about artificial intelligence cross sub-genres into space travel and utopia-dystopia movies.

Here are the best movies in history regarding artificial intelligence.

“Forbidden Planet” (1956)

“Forbidden Planet” starred a young and handsome Leslie Nielsen as Commander John J. Adams, who commands a starship exploring a distant human colony. When he lands to find only three survivors, his crew gets to the bottom of the mystery when they eventually find a supercomputer that makes human thoughts come alive. Not only did “Forbidden Planet” have a hugely intelligent artificial brain, but a thinking robot called Robby helped the crew of the ship and found survivors.

Based upon Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” the movie was a powerhouse of science fiction, space exploration, and delving deep into human consciousness. The psychological underpinnings of humanity were borne out and manifested by a computer’s creation as something evil and monstrous.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

HAL 9000 is designed to run the complex systems onboard the Discovery One. The ship’s mission was to send a human crew to Jupiter on a supposedly scientific mission. Three astronauts are in cryogenic hibernation, while two maintain watch over the ship on the long journey. HAL’s programming came into conflict with the mission, and he goes berserk and eventually kills every astronaut except Commander David Bowman.

The reason for HAL 9000’s behaviour is revealed later–HAL was programmed to be honest at all times, but higher-ups in the government instructed the computer to keep the purpose of the mission a secret. Instead of a purely scientific mission, HAL was supposed to reveal to Bowman and his crew are their mission is to investigate an ancient alien intelligence known as the Monolith. Instead, HAL doesn’t know what to think and becomes paranoid.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” is largely regarded as one of the best science fiction movies of all time. Arthur C. Clarke’s book came out the same year as the movie.

“Tron” (1982)

Jeff Bridges battles the Master Control Program with designs on taking over the company which created the computer in the first place. Kevin Flynn (Bridges) needs to recover a program his boss stole. When a new experimental laser digitizes his human form into the electronic world, the ubiquitous Master Control Program wants Flynn to play in gladiator-type games until he’s conquered. Flynn has to team up with other programs to try to defeat the MCP and free the system.

“Tron” set the stage for other films about being sucked into a computerized world, such as “The Matrix.” It was a cult classic that finally received a sequel in 2010.

“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” (2001)

Steven Spielberg directed “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” about a child-like android played by Haley Joel Osment. David is programmed with the ability to love, unlike any of his fellows in the artificial intelligence world. David’s mission is to serve as a replacement to a family’s son while he is in suspended animation awaiting a cure for a disease.

“A.I.” is about how humans become wholly dependent upon machines, even spurning emotions in favor of dumping them into androids. The climax of the film is compelling as David is shunned after the human son is cured, and the two cannot live as brothers.

Spielberg’s movie is a take on racial segregation and prejudice. If androids ever exist in a world such as “A.I.,” hopefully humans have learned the lessons of past injustices in order to cope with fellow intelligent beings.

Movies about artificial intelligence revolve around the fear surrounding computer brains running human society. In the end, viewers are meant to think humans and computers are more alike than they are different. In other scenarios, artificial intelligence act more human than humans themselves.

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