Artificial Intelligence

30 Days of AI: Unleashing the Possibilities of Artificial Intelligence in Daily Life: Day 1 – Movie Recommendations

It’s very easy to get distracted by the rigors of everyday life and miss the big changes happening all around you. My favorite illustration of this is a really old experiment. Check out the video below.

Given the recent explosion of interest in AI, brought about by the introduction of Chat GPT (and the investments by Microsoft, plus the relaunch of Bing and CoPilot…and the scramble by Google to respond), it is a subject that’s very much top-of-mind for all of us.

But what can artificial intelligence really do? How far can we push its capabilities, and what are its limits? To test this and familiarize myself with what’s out there, I’m embarking on a 30-day AI challenge, where I’ll try one new thing using AI every day to see if I can do it better or differently. I’ll report back on these experiments here with a daily post.

Day 1 – Movie Recommendations #30DayAIChallenge

I’m a huge fan of science fiction and horror, always have been. I love the imagination and world-building that accompany the best books and movies, and their ability to transport you and make you think differently.

It’s hard to find movies that really break the mold, though. Unless they’re popular and hit the mainstream charts, they don’t get a whole lot of attention. Plus, the current recommendation and ranking algorithms on most streaming services (Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, etc.) and websites like IMDB leave a lot to be desired.

So, on Day 1 of my 30-Day AI Challenge, I’m going to test the recommendation capabilities of AI today…curious to see what happens! As it’s the weekend, what better way to kick it off than to find a few hidden horror movie gems?

For this test, I’m going to try and find horror movies that strayed away from the regular tropes and did something surprising and creative. Great examples that come to mind are movies like ‘The Cabin In The Woods (2011)’ and ‘The Babadook (2014)’

First, let’s try a good old Google search though:

Hmm…not great, but not unsurprising. It took the query quite literally and picked up recommendations from an IMDb article that lists movie plots involving a literal cabin in the woods.

Ok…so what about a specialized site like IMDb itself? The Internet Movie Database has a pretty comprehensive repository of titles, including a recommendation engine to boot. Here’s what the “More Like This” feature suggests, which isn’t too bad (it even suggests The Babadook’):

The only challenge, though, is you’ve got to click through every title that looks interesting and keep going down promising rabbit holes till you find something worthwhile. It’s time consuming and not very efficient. You also can’t be super specific about what you’re looking for…the main options appear to be looking at genre (or top 250) rankings or the lookalike model.

Guess it’s time to put more robust AI to the test.

I posed the same question to Bing and 5 minutes later, after I had installed Edge on my Mac and gone through a bunch of promotional messaging just to use Bing Chat, I had a response…nice going Microsoft:

Similar to Google, the search engine pulled up a relevant article and made recommendations. The Bing Chat box popped up though and started ‘scanning’ for movies with dark humor and I was excited for a bit…till this popped up (see panel on the right) – EXACTLY THE SAME content {Eye roll}.

Time to put ChatGPT (GPT-3.5) through its paces. Here’s the same query I put in and the result:

Hmm…a slight improvement, but not vastly so. Let’s try a slightly more detailed description of what I’m looking for:

Considering ChatGPT is a large natural language model, the results are pretty impressive. I’ve watched all three suggested movies and they certainly fit the bill.

I also love that fact that I can just chat on my phone or computer and get relevant recommendations pulled up without having to go hunt for them on the web or specialized sites. Also love the ability to continue the conversation and dig deeper on the same query…see example below.

Love this! I’ve seen two of the three movies above…and it looks like I just found one that I haven’t seen yet.

Here’s another query, this time with GPT-4, to see if the results are different or better given the new (and touted as better) release:

SCORE! That’s three movies I haven’t seen and definitely sound worth checking out. I consider Day 1 of my #30DayAIChallenge a resounding success!

I’ll definitely be using ChatGPT a lot more to look for movie and book recommendations that are a little more niche. I guess there are limitations, of course…for example, model knowledge is limited to data available up to September 2021 and it isn’t directly connected to the internet (Bing Chat ought to solve this, but so far seems a little unimpressive). You also have to frame your questions pretty clearly as the model struggles with complexity and ambiguity. Still…colour me impressed!

I’ll leave you with a creepy and intriguing image inspired by ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ (and a robot to boot), generated using MidJourney.

For those reading this, I’d love your thoughts and feedback – are you using AI to improve your searches already? Are there other great tools or sites (besides ChatGPT) that offer up amazing, relevant recommendations when it comes to movies and books (beyond say, IMDB and Amazon)? Leave a comment below or on Twitter / LinkedIN / Facebook!

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