Keanu Reeves made a career out of portraying cyberpunk action heroes rebelling against dystopian overlords who happen to be sentient machines — among other iconic roles — so who better to ask about this brave new world of AI we're entering?
Actually, it was Reeves who broached the topic first, in an interview with Wired ahead of the release of his upcoming "John Wick: Chapter 4."
Describing himself as "interested in the storytelling of humans and their interactions with technologies," the beloved movie star had a few grievances to air out, on everything from ChatGPT to the Metaverse.
When Reeves asked interviewer Angela Watercutter if she thought a bot could be conducting this interview in the future, Watercutter responded that she wasn't worried it'd happen in her lifetime.
Reeves then looked her "dead in the eye" and said: "Oh no, you should be worried about that happening next month." Gulp.
Ironically, the interviewer later stumbled across a tweet about a writer's client replacing him with an AI. Telling Reeves about the story, Watercutter joked that he was "probably right about the bots."
Reeves didn't laugh. Instead, after giving her a "thoughtful look," he told her that corporations don't care about paying artists: "They don't give a fuck."
"The people who are paying you for your art would rather not pay you," he elaborated later in the interview. "They're actively seeking a way around you, because artists are tricky. Humans are messy."
Still, Reeves admitted that ChatGPT's ability to churn out scripts, even if it merely combines or rips off existing ideas, is "cool" — in classic Keanu fashion — but was doubtful of the AI's "intention" behind its synthesis.
Keeping with the theme of the terrifying power of rapidly improving tech, Watercutter brought up deepfakes. Keanu — who famously stipulates in his recent contracts that his performances can't be digitally altered without his permission — is interested. But he's not a fan.
"When you give a performance in a film, you know you're going to be edited, but you're participating in that," he said. "If you go into deepfake land, it has none of your points of view. That's scary."
The One also had some wisdom to share on "people growing up with these tools," such as generative AIs.
"I was trying to explain the plot of 'The Matrix' to this 15-year-old once, and that the character I played was really fighting for what was real," Reeves recalled. "And this young person was just like, 'Who cares if it's real?'"
Ignorance is bliss, huh? Alright, Cypher.
"We're listening to music already that's made by AI in the style of Nirvana, there's NFT digital art," he continued. "It's cool, like, Look what the cute machines can make!"
"But there's a corporatocracy behind it that's looking to control those things," Reeves warned. "Culturally, socially, we're gonna be confronted by the value of real, or the nonvalue."
"It's this sensorium," he said, describing aspirations of building a metaverse. "It's spectacle. And it's a system of control and manipulation. We're on our knees looking at cave walls and seeing the projections, and we're not having the chance to look behind us."
Read more: Keanu Will Never Surrender to the Machines
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