Mercifully, an artificial intelligence-led revolt against humanity didn’t happen in 2020. If iHuman is to be believed, it’s not a matter of if, but when. A documentary which functions as much as a horror film, some of the world’s smartest minds address the multitude of ways in which technology will be the end of us. From the proliferation of fake news and extreme cyber attacks, to AI weapons and watertight dictatorships, if the machines don’t get us, those controlling them will.

Comparisons to horror films aren’t accidental. With a score that sounds like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross attempting Dunkirk, and some digital artistry personifying AI as an H. R. Giger monster, Tonje Hessen Schei’s iHuman invites unease. It suggests that those future dystopias seen in sci-fi novels for decades have arrived, like in the case of Xinjiang, where advanced surveillance capabilities have aided in rounding up and imprisoning Uighurs.

What it lacks is somewhat of an upside. While documentaries on the climate crisis lay out the road back from the brink, and films about the internet promote the benefits of unplugging, iHuman has no call to action. That feeling of powerlessness may be the point, but this is an hour and a half laced with anxiety. Without reprieve or relief, without something constructive to regain a sense of control, it can feel informative but unhelpful.

There’s also the underselling of its philosophical points. Some scientists here accept the eventual dominance of AI as part of evolution. The advancement of weaponry is noted because it means executions can be carried out from thousands of miles away without anyone’s finger on the trigger. iHuman could really benefit from  focusing more on what these developments mean for our collective humanity.

This is still a sufficient and knowledgeable primer about the state of AI and adequately builds up enough tension to convey that we should be very worried indeed.



CAST: Philip Alston, Yobie Benjamin, Tyler Breisacher

DIRECTOR: Tonje Hessen Schei 

SYNOPSIS: iHUMAN shows a growing conflict in the tech world. AI now permeates every aspect of our lives, but only a handful of people really have control over what it’s doing to us. The true limits of AI remain unknown – as do the extent of the consequences.