This Arnold Schwarzenegger AI machine turned out to be a lot more lifelike than its users expected

It gave surprisingly thoughtful replies to various life questions, as seen in Orchard’s promo for Schwarzenegger’s book ‘Be Useful’

Published On
Oct 18, 2023
A woman sitting in front of an "Arnold Intelligence" AI machine

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They say artificial intelligence has limited empathy and, well, intelligence. But a recent experiment in California by Penguin Press, promoting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new book “Be Useful,” had visitors thinking otherwise.

Working with creative agency Orchard, Penguin set up a booth at a Gold’s Gym in Venice, California, and invited people in. They put on headphones that were hooked up to a machine and heard what sounded like Schwarzenegger’s voice telling them it was an AI named “Arnold Intelligence.” The AI said it had been trained using Schwarzenegger’s book, which is all about advice for finding your true purpose in life.

The visitors were invited to ask the AI anything they liked. Seeing their chance, their questions got pretty deep. And the replies they got were, in the end, pretty wild.


The video, directed by Jeff Low, is very entertaining, and unexpectedly moving—the connection Arnold makes with his fans is remarkable to watch. It’s obviously a fun twist on the age-old celebrity surprise video. But designing it as a fake AI experiment is a nice way, in our age of tech-everything, to frame the man’s humanity, which you’ll find more of in the book.

The promo further ties to the product by being itself useful to the visitors, who not only left with with a copy of the book ahead of publication but got to experience its insights in person.

Conor Dooley, creative director at Orchard, said the project proves that “even something like a book launch is an opportunity to grab people’s attention in strange and different and big ways.” Shooting with Schwarzenegger, he added, was pretty special as well.

“We were understandably unsure of exactly how Arnold would react to our idea. His response was, ‘Great. When do we shoot?’ If you’re going to get no notes, Arnold is a pretty flattering source,” Dooley told Ad Age. “On the day of the shoot, Arnold just wanted to keep going,” he added. “He’d been hidden behind a box for hours, but we essentially had to pull him away. The man loves his fans. He loves people.”

David Kolbusz, chief creative officer at Orchard, said it was nice to have this wry take on AI, even as the industry and the world rush headlong into it.

“AI is the future. There’s no way around it,” Kolbusz said. “But for all its doomsday potential and benevolent possibilities, we just wanted to pop that bubble for a moment. Remind people that technology can have its place, but humanity will always have an irreplaceable power. And Arnold, when you meet him, is just peak humanity.”

He added: “When you look at the level of success Arnold has achieved across bodybuilding, acting, politics … it seems inhuman. No man could do all that. And that’s the most compelling aspect. A perfect machine can give you perfect advice all day and it means nothing. But the fact that a human has achieved what he has achieved means it is achievable! That lived experience is invaluable.”

The video will roll out today on Schwarzenegger’s Instagram, where he has more than 25 million followers.


Oct 18, 2023
Client :
Penguin Press
Agency :
Chief Strategy Officer :
Laura Janness
Chief Executive Officer :
Barney Robinson
Chief Creative Officer :
David Kolbusz
Executive Creative Director :
Jimm Lasser
Creative Director :
Conor Dooley
Strategy Director :
Albert Opraseuth
Head of Production :
Jenn Pennington
Senior Copywriter :
Patrick Wells
Senior Art Director :
Kevin Igunbor
Account Director :
Hayley Howell
Production Company :
Biscuit Filmworks
Director :
Jeff Low
Managing Director :
Shawn Lacy
Executive Producer :
Holly Vega
Head of Production :
Sean Moody
Producer :
Brendan Garrett
Production Supervisor :
Mining Yu
DP :
Joao Padua
Production Designer :
Ron Beach Jr.
Editorial / Post Production :
Cut + Run
EP/Partner :
Lauren Hertzberg
Post Producer :
Eytan Gutman
Editor :
Ethan Mitchell
Sound Design & Mix :
Dean Metherell

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