When you first read Extant, which has a robot child and futuristic technology, did you think to yourself, ”Hey! That Mickey Fisher bogarted parts of A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Minority Report”?
No. My first thought about it was what a tremendous concept for a series: a woman who discovers that her baby isn’t her own and then goes in search of the truth. What part of that offspring belongs to her genetically? I never thought it was an homage to my other science-fiction movies.
Had you met with Halle Berry before?
I met her on the night she won her Oscar. Halle’s name came up as a possibility [for Extant], and we all thought it would be a gift if that wish came true.
Does this series resonate with you because you can imagine a future with robot kids?
I can imagine a future with sentient robots. All my life I’ve been interested in sentients, which are machines that can not only think but also experience compassion. I’m working on a movie that really is about, How smart does a machine have to get before it turns against us and realizes it can outsmart us? It doesn’t need us anymore, and in fact, we’re getting in its way. And then it goes on a rampage to eliminate biological organisms.
You must feel such a huge sense of pride from Minority Report, your 2002 film that predicted technology that we have now, like touch displays and advertisers targeting individual customers.
It’s a twin-edge sword. I’m really proud of all of the inventions that my team and I came up with that made Minority Report a story of the near future. But I’m also angry at myself for not getting patents on all of my ideas because otherwise I could have owned Facebook and iPhone. If only I had the foresight to figure out, Hey, this could really be in our future! I once asked Steve Jobs if he ever saw Minority Report and he said he had not. So his ideas were independent of mine! Movies like [1927’s] Metropolis…these are films where their future has never come true. But as science-fiction writers today tell stories about tomorrow, a lot of the technologies are not outside the realm of possibility. I think it’s interesting to see so much of what science-fiction writers dream up coming to pass not a hundred years later, but 7 or 8 or 10 years later.
So it sounds like you can envision a society where robot kids become the norm.
I think human beings are amazing. And I really believe that with all the tools we have at our disposal today and the tools that are being developed for tomorrow that if we can imagine it, we can have it — even if we don’t want it.