We Need to Talk About ‘We Need to Talk About AI’

Owing to coronavirus and worldwide civil unrest, no one is talking about this new AI documentary, so let’s give it the podium it deserves…

Catriona Campbell
6 min readJun 17, 2020


Poster for ‘We Need to Talk About AI. ‘

An unwitting victim of circumstance, We Need to Talk About AI was released on April 20th this year with shockingly little fanfare. But, like its central topic, we really shouldn’t let this insightful and thought-provoking feature documentary on artificial intelligence (AI) us by.

The latest creation from Leanne Pooley, the renowned Canadian director-producer behind the likes of The Promise and Beyond the Edge, We Need to Talk About AI is an important addition to an ever-growing library of content on one of the greatest potential threats to mankind.

Pooley brings together an impressive roster of contributors, including director James Cameron; MIT’s Max Tegmark, co-founder of the Future of Life Institute and author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence; and entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, founder and CEO of neurotechnology firm Kernel and contributor to Architects of Intelligence: The Truth About AI from the People Building it.

Max Tegmark, Future of Life Institute.

Along with a host of other big names, Cameron, Tegmark and Johnson look at where we’re at with AI right now before thrashing out the issue of whether the existential risk posed by artificial general intelligence (AGI) — which might not exist yet, but will be able to do everything better than humans when it does — outweighs its potential benefits.

As the talking heads contemplate a droid-populated future, one we’ve so far only seen on the whimsical pages of sci-fi but also one far closer than we might imagine, their varied opinions clash.

That said, like any documentary filmmaker worth their salt, Pooley never allows the discourse to edge too far in either direction. Instead, the award-winner keeps all empirical and theoretical considerations as balanced as possible, joining the burgeoning ranks of AI realists seeking to explore one of the most pressing issues of our time — and…



Catriona Campbell

Behavioural psychologist; AI-quisitive; EY UK&I Client Technology & Innovation Officer. Views my own & don't represent EY’s position. catrionacampbell.com