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If A.I. is now a global child to rear, what type of parents should we be? 

Steven Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence explored a future where a highly advanced robot child, David, embarked on an adventure to become ‘real’ in a world where technology and humanity blur the lines of existence. In this story David begins to desire human love from his parents. The film aired in 2001, the same year Stanley Kubrick set his intergalactic satire on modern technology, 2001: Space Odyssey. Seminal science fiction films over the course of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries created worlds that were considered far-fetched – these days, they feel far closer to home. 

"The human soul cannot be created by any algorithm... If we were to lose that because books, films, and music tracks are being written by the machines we created, that terrifies me.”
- Stephen Spielberg

In the entertainment and advertising industries A.I. has boiled over from sci-fi concept to real time issue, and has prompted a divisive response. On the one hand, concerns about privacy, security, authorship and job security took precedence in the 2023 WGA and SAG AFTRA strikes. The human soul is unimaginable and ineffable. It cannot be created by any algorithm… If we were to lose that because books, films, and music tracks are being written by the machines that we created, that terrifies me,said Spielberg in discussion with Stephen Colbert. On the other hand, companies and individuals have embraced the opportunities it poses, with talent agencies such as CAA, where Spielberg is represented, is undertaking a mass digital scan of their clients which can be commodified.

Artificial Intelligence is a human creation; a natural evolution, some might go as far to say. Yet with this seismic generation shift, it is important to ensure A.I. does not override human interests, or default human contribution. A.I. is still in its infancy and we have responsibility to guide it and ground it in human values, like we might our children. Thinking back to Spielberg’s young David: maybe A.I. just needs some good parenting?

Having parents is something that unites all of humankind, and while parenting techniques differ all over the world, much of who we all are as human beings is a result of our relationship (in whatever form it takes) with our parents. If A.I. is now a global child to rear, what type of parents should we be?


When googling “parenting tips,” the first hit is a list which begins with Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem. Praise accomplishments, foster capability and be compassionate. Should we embrace the positive qualities of AI and celebrate its ability to research, learn and create? A.I. enables humans an avenue to express themselves in a previously explored way, and it is our duty to foster this, and encourage this technology as it develops.


The aim of discipline is to help children choose acceptable behaviors and learn self-control.  We need to establish and set rules which have consequences for our A.I. systems. In February 2024 The EU AI Act was completed and endorsed by all 27 Member States, the first Act of its kind to prevent the exploitation, manipulation and harm of human beings, and to become a global hub for human-centric, trustworthy A.I.. While we must embrace the power of this technology for good, we must set and establish rules for its misuse.


In any relationship, communication is key. Parents should learn what’s going on in their children’s lives and how things are affecting them. Using this approach, we should be constantly checking in with our A.I. models, and understand what inputs are affecting them. This way, we can ensure accuracy and efficacy is increased, and bias and discrimination is spotted.


You know those kids whose parents let them go out on a school night, encourage self expression, and the pursuit of dreams without a concrete plan? Maybe they had it right. Maybe we should let A.I. run wild and prevent the stunting of its unhinged potential. 

The message of Speilberg’s A.I. concludes that David was created in the human image to love human beings. While we may not have mastered humanoid robots, there have been sources of AI models displaying near-human attributes. There is no consensus on a single set of human values or preferences to parent A.I. – we live in a world where people have diverse backgrounds, resources and beliefs. Parenting is a series of trials and errors, with no one way to get it right. But if humans can root A.I. in moral, rational human values, set clear boundaries, encourage positive behavior, all the while letting it carve out an identity in this new world – perhaps A.I. will turn out to be a fine young adult.