Almost forty years since the first Alien film landed, Ridley Scott continues to ask tough questions about what the future might hold for us all…
“The digital world is screaming past our ears. God only knows where we’ll be in 20 years time.”
It’s hardly surprising that acclaimed director Ridley Scott would express such a thought.
This is, after all, the same man who through films like Alien, Blade Runner and The Martian explored the extreme, even terrifying, potential of technology in the future.
And now he’s at it again with the release of Alien: Covenant, the first of three prequels linked to the original 1979 sci-fi horror classic that propelled Scott into the league of visionary directors.
Following the crew of a colony ship who wind up on a remote planet that harbours an unimaginable threat, this film marks the seasoned director’s return to familiar territory: science, technology, space and artificial intelligence (AI).
What could possibly go wrong?
A key element of cult classic Blade Runner, the subject of AI is now no longer confined to sci-fi novel pages and filmmakers’ fertile imagination.
Rapid progress has made the impossible possible – unmanned cars, advanced satellite cameras – and it’s bound to get crazier as technology becomes sophisticated enough to rival, even exceed, human capabilities.
Even renowned physicist-cosmologist Stephen Hawking and tech pioneer Elon Musk have publicly warned of ‘robot takeover’ as demand for humans in the workforce is predicted to shrink in the future due to improvements in AI.
“AI is much further advanced than they would care to discuss or admit,” warned Scott in a recent film ahead of the movie’s release.
The director, who made a name for himself by rendering such futuristic images and themes on film, expressed a mix of amusement and dread at what technology still holds for mankind.
“The Wright brothers started one age when they got off the ground for 25 feet in 1910. We’re now seriously considering landing on Mars 100 years later.
“That’s shocking. But the digital evolution, from Steve Jobs forward, is quantum. So who knows how that will save or destroy us over the next 30 years? I don’t know.”
He added, “If we continue with our evolution with travel, which will be helped by AI, eventually they’ll be sending out people [to live in space]… I think the idea of a large craft going off with families on board is more likely.”
Also starring: Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride
Running time: 123 minutes