Review: ‘Do You Trust This Computer?’ lays out a scary case for artificial intelligence threats

A scene from "Do You Trust This Computer?"
( / Papercut Films and Cinetic Media)

Documentarian Chris Paine follows up “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and “Revenge of the Electric Car” with a movie far more skeptical about technological progress. “Do You Trust This Computer?” covers the major talking points about the benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence, assembling them into something engaging and alarming — if not exactly in-depth.

The film features dozens of interviews with some of the world’s keenest minds, including tech pioneer Elon Musk and “Westworld” TV producer Jonathan Nolan. Paine strings them together with footage of modern marvels, alongside clips from old movies that anticipated our possible techno-dystopian future.

“Do You Trust This Computer?” jumps from subject to subject: from advanced robot assembly lines to drone-delivered bombs to AI-honed “fake news” feeds. The topical thread connecting all these segments has to do with the efforts of programmers and engineers to make machines that mimic not just the physical skills of humans, but also our intuition and personality.


The movie is breezy to a fault. The interviewees are focused and articulate, but aren’t given time to cover more than the basics. Anyone who’s already been following the ongoing conversations about the future of AI won’t learn much new.

Still, “Do You Trust This Computer?” does make for a lively introduction to what’s probably the most important public issue of our time: how we’re allowing hyper-aware computer networks to affect everything from work to war, and pop culture to politics.


‘Do You Trust This Computer?’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Playing: Monica Film Center, Santa Monica