The Joy of AI (BBC-4 2018)

In one off documentary The Joy of AI, Professor Jim al-Khalili takes a sharp-witted and refreshingly optimistic look at how we have created machines that can simulate, augment, and even outperform the human mind – and why we should not let this spook us.

Following in the footsteps of BBC Four’s award-winning maths films like The Joy Of Stats and The Joy Of Data, this latest unreservedly geeky adventure sees physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili tell the story of the pursuit of AI, the emergence of machine learning and the recent breakthroughs brought about by artificial neural networks. He shows how AI is not only changing our world, but also challenging our very ideas of intelligence and consciousness.

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Along the way, Jim will show how spam filters use AI to weed out ‘v!agr@’ as well as ‘Viagra’ from your inbox; meet a cutting-edge chatbot to find out how it keeps the conversation flowing (and where it really starts to struggle); see why just a few altered pixels makes a computer think it is looking at a trombone rather than a dog; and talk to Demis Hassabis, the AI wizard who heads DeepMind, whose stated mission is “to solve intelligence and then use that to solve everything else”.

Jim learns how AI is a potent new tool that can help enhance our lives, not replace us. And besides – Jim finds out – the average toddler is still smarter than any computer ever made (yet).

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In the name of research Jim also goes for a spin in a self-driving car, plays chess as if he were a computer programme written over 70 years ago, and discovers why a 1980s’ Atari game has proved pivotal to today’s most cutting-edge AI.

Contributors include computer scientists Professor Stuart Russell and Professor Oliver Lemon; Computational Neuroscientist Professor Anil Seth; computer vision expert Dr Lewis Griffin; Dr Raia Hadsell, Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind; and Professor Paul Newman, Founder and CTO of Oxbotica.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.