Jean-Stéphane Bron’s documentary The Brain is screening as part of the IFI French Film Festival 2021.
The Brain addresses the ever-nearing ethical dilemma: the fact that our advance A.I. will soon outstrip our understanding of the workings of human intelligence. What will this mean for the future of technology, and indeed the future of humanity?
Director Jean-Stéphane Bron gives us a nuanced view of the intersecting fields he explores. The documentary is framed by the story of a father and son whose respective professions, as a neuroscientist and a PhD scholar of artificial intelligence, often have them at cross purposes as they try to figure out what the future of technology could or indeed should look like for humanity.
With contributions in French, English and Italian, there are five sections in the feature which explores both the potential significant benefits and terrifying possibilities that advances in A.I. could mean. This includes following a psychologist using the latest technology to support coma patients with locked-in syndrome, through to scientists warning of the exponential rate of growth in A.I. which, if left unchecked, could pose serious threats to humans, including the ability to override people’s emotions and decision making.
Doing so, The Brain invites us to question how much access and control large companies, such as Facebook and Tesla, should have to A.I. Throughout the documentary we encounter admirable individuals who refuse to sell their research out to big business, but should these decisions be left up to a scientist’s conscience? Or should there be legislation in place to ensure there are restrictions and delays placed on machine learning now, instead of after the fact when it may be too late to undo the damage?
All this and more is explored throughout and will likely have viewers simultaneously intrigued and terrified. However, perhaps particularly fascinating is how, at the heart of a documentary that is so preoccupied with advances in machine technology, human interaction transcends all other aspects. Whether this is in the actions kindness, such as an embrace between a father and son, or even the engaged and earnest conversations between friends and colleagues, both across the conference and dinner table. Not to mention the strong bond explored between one scientist and his dog. This seems to be Bron’s suggestion of the enduring space for humans that will remain even into our uncertain technological future.