Infinity Chamber is an excellent independent Sci-Fi film in the great dystopian traditional of man versus machine. In this case, it is a take on AI where the main protagonist, Frank, is detained in a fully automated prison. Set within Frank’s cell he engages with the AI persona, known as Howard, who is Frank’s Life Support Officer. Frank is not made aware of the crimes he is charged with or why he has been detained. We follow Frank as he learns more about his dilemma and how he attempts to escape.
Infinity Chamber is a though-provoking and philosophical film that kept me fully engaged right to the end. It is not a big-budget film full of special effects where the film is all Fi and no Sci. It is more Moon than Terminator. Infinity Chamber is a very thoughtful film with a good balance of Sci and Fi. Some of its elements are unfortunately real. A dictatorship, decisions made without explanation, controlling people’s lives, secretly imprisoning people without trial. Others aspects are more of what-if in nature. What-if an AI was in charge of my life, my every move, my freedom, who is possibly manipulative and makes all the decisions?
There is a lot to take away from this film and may aspects to discuss after. It will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is slow-paced and at times you can tell it is a low budget film. However, if you enjoy a film with good dialogue where you and the main protagonist are both trying to work out what is happening and, at times, what just happened, this may be for you.
Howard is introduced as Frank’s Life Support Officer. This sounds like a modern digital personal assistant. One of the aspects of this film, for me, was how quickly Howard’s AI capability edges were exposed and how impactful this can be to the end user. Frank’s only support was Howard which was about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
The State of AI
The AI in Infinity Chamber is somewhat reminiscent of more human-sounding HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey. However, Howard is more conversational, perhaps caring and within its defined parameters, it appears to want to help and look after Frank. But just like current AI chatbots, those chipper colourful pop-up boxes with a friendly subservient “hi”, they have limited ability and do not share the same agenda as you.
Limited, with little regard to transparency of what its full intent is and unable to explain decisions sounds about spot on for the state of many AI systems currently being used to process applications for loans, university, benefits and jobs. Who knows, could it have been Howard that made the decision to imprison Frank in the first place? Was Frank incorrectly measured by some algorithm with a lack of ongoing data to update and drive its model? Did the computer say no?