This review contains major spoilers forJexi.
In his recentNew York Timesop-ed, “How to Stop Superhuman A.I. Before It Stops Us,” Dr. Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, advises people to create artificial intelligence machines that work toward our (human) objectives rather thantheirnonhuman ones. That way, machines will “always defer to humans” and “ask for permission when appropriate.”Jexi,a new sci-fi comedy film released on Friday starring Adam Devine (Workaholics, Pitch Perfect), showcases the sort of A.I. that Russell strongly cautions against: a machine that thinks and acts for itself.
The film’s premise is painstakingly modern: Phil (Adam Devine) breaks his phone when he bumps into Cate (Alexandra Shipp) — like so many of us, he was looking down at his device instead of where he was walking. After a visit to what bears a striking resemblance to the Apple Store where a disgruntled employee named Denice (Wanda Sykes) roasts Phil for his millennial smartphone addiction, Phil gets a new phone that offers an audacious and horrifyingly independent A.I. assistant, Jexi (voiced by Rose Byrne), which I will refer to using she/her pronouns.
Before Phil had Jexi, he was entirely dependent on Siri and a seemingly voluntary loner. It’s part of a cycle Phil doesn’t care to break: Because he can enjoy an evening of Netflix and food delivered to his doorstep all thanks to his smartphone, he’s just fine.
So, as Phil is setting up his new phone, he grants the operating system access to all his social media,
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