Ironic that Next Year’s Biggest Oscar Contender Takes Place in a Galaxy where AI is Forbidden

Dune Part 2 Hits the Big Screen Today

After a delay of four months, the much anticipated second part of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune arrives in cinemas today. It’s fair to say that Dune Part 2 cannot be tied down to one genre, and that is one of the reasons both the book and the earlier Part 1 film have achieved such success.

Dune is a satire on the dependence we have had for fossil fuels. It’s also a drama that cautions us against the difference between charismatic leadership and the fundamentals of faith. It’s a love story, too. But Dune is also a political thriller and a work of science fiction. No wonder the book has been a colossal best seller, and the successful interpretation of the book into two films have already made it a cinematic classic.

The Butlerian Jihad

But at the root of this epic saga is a plot line that’s central to the entire premise. It concerns an immutable law that binds together a vast community of habitable planets; a law against AI. 10,000 years before the events of Dune took place, a schism called the Butlerian Jihad occurred, after which the development and use of AI was punishable by death. Everything that happens in Frank Herbert’s Dune books (and consequently the films) happens because of the Butlerian Jihad.

Actually, there are a few ironies at play here. First, the synchronicity of the anti-AI plot line with the Hollywood strike, ignited by the creative community of writers who believe AI is an ‘existential threat to their careers’.  The other irony is that it was the strike itself that delayed the release of the movie.

Dune Part 1 made half a billion dollars and won six Academy Awards. Safe money is on Dune Part 2 doubling that money and very nearly doubling the Oscar haul of its predecessor.

I don’t expect you to read anything deep into the peculiar timing of plot line and reality.

But if there are some clear references to the Butlerian Jihad in this new release, then this synchronicity will become – even unconsciously – awards fodder for the good folk of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and similar other associations around the world.

A jihad against AI. What d’ya think Elon, Sam, Mark, Sundar and Satya?

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