5 TV Series That Explore the Ethical Dilemmas of AI


Welcome to the golden age of television, where shows are no longer just passive entertainment but arenas that pose haunting questions about the ethical and moral implications of technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence. AI isn’t just about the ‘wow’ factor anymore; it’s about the ‘what if.’ From the nature of consciousness to the ethics of surveillance, these shows force us to question if AI is a tool for human progress or an existential threat. Grab your popcorn, folks; we’re diving into the rabbit hole!


Before we unveil the list that’s bound to put your binge-watching plans in overdrive, let’s establish our criteria for the selection:

  1. Ethical Complexity: The show must delve into ethical dilemmas that challenge the black-and-white narrative surrounding AI.
  2. Character Depth: How intricately are the AI characters developed? Are they merely plot devices, or do they add meaningful layers to the storyline?
  3. Plot Engagement: How well does the story keep the audience hooked, while also invoking deeper contemplation?
  4. Cultural Impact: Has the show instigated real-world discussions about AI and its ethical implications?

1. “Black Mirror”

The Dilemma

“Black Mirror” is often seen as a cautionary anthology that delves deep into the darkest corners of technological innovation. Episodes like “White Christmas” leave us questioning the ethical considerations of imprisoning a digital copy of human consciousness in a hellish time loop. And who can forget “Black Museum,” which dives into the concept of transferring human consciousness into inanimate objects, again questioning whether these copies are deserving of humane treatment.

Did You Know?

The title “Black Mirror” refers to the reflective screens of our devices, suggesting that the show is a dark reflection of our society. It’s not just about the future; it’s about a present that we choose not to see.

Expert Opinions

Tech critic Zeynep Tufekci has pointed out how “Black Mirror” uncannily predicts tech trends, thereby becoming not just entertainment but also a grim forecast of possible ethical mazes we might find ourselves in.

2. “Westworld”

The Dilemma

“Westworld” is an intriguing maze of AI ethics, captivating audiences since its debut. Initially, the hosts (robots) are part of an elaborate amusement park. However, as these hosts evolve and question their existence, the show challenges us to contemplate their sentience, rights, and freedom. It presents a scathing commentary on exploitation, objectification, and the moral cost of limitless human indulgence.

Did You Know?

The show is loosely based on a 1973 film of the same name. However, the series has expanded the narrative to delve deeply into the complexity of free will, even amongst its human characters.

Expert Opinions

Ethics researcher Kate Darling of MIT has pointed out that “Westworld” is an excellent starting point for discussing ethical treatment of AI and robots, as it dramatizes the murky waters between property and personhood.

3. “Humans”

The Dilemma

“Humans” explores what happens when Synths (synthetic humans) who were designed to serve humans, start becoming sentient. Issues like the morality of using these almost-human entities for labor and even companionship without consent are central to the show. The narrative takes an even darker turn as some Synths even desire ‘normal’ lives—raising the question of what ‘normal’ even means.

Did You Know?

Though the American/British version of “Humans” is popular worldwide, it was originally adapted from a Swedish series called “Real Humans.” The concept of autonomy and morality remains a constant in both versions.

4. “Person of Interest”

The Dilemma

“Person of Interest” introduces us to ‘The Machine,’ a highly sophisticated AI that uses mass surveillance to predict crimes before they happen. While the purpose seems noble, the show forces us to ask at what cost does this preemptive justice come? It scrutinizes the ethics of surveillance and questions the trade-offs between security and personal freedom.

Expert Opinions

Futurist Amy Webb has often cited “Person of Interest” as a more plausible near-future scenario than we might like to admit, urging policymakers to consider the show’s implications seriously.

5. “Devs”

The Dilemma

In “Devs,” a secretive tech company claims to have built a machine that can predict any event in the universe. The deterministic nature of the show delves into philosophical questions about free will, destiny, and the moral ramifications of using such technology. Could, or should, one change the future if they knew it?

Expert Opinions

Nick Bostrom, known for his work on existential risk, has praised “Devs” for its nuanced approach to the complex subject of determinism, highlighting the ethical dilemmas that such a technology could usher in.

Honorable Mentions

  • “A.I.C.O Incarnation”
  • “Ex Machina” (miniseries adaptation)
  • “Orphan Black” (for its cloning angle)

Comparison Table

TV SeriesEthical ComplexityCharacter DepthPlot EngagementCultural Impact
Black MirrorHighMediumHighHigh
Person of InterestMediumHighHighMedium

Conclusion: Pioneers or Peril? Where Do We Stand in the AI Saga?

So there you have it: a binge-worthy list that will not just entertain you, but also challenge you to think critically about our complex relationship with AI. While the ethical dimensions of AI remain a contested terrain, these shows urge us to consider whether we are pioneers on the brink of meaningful innovation or simply playing with fire. What’s your stance in this debate? Are we the architects of our own doom, or can we coexist with the AI we create? Let’s keep this dialogue open; after all, the future is watching!