Thoughts on Ex Machina
By Christopher Schmaltz
The robot is hot…until she puts on her short-haired wig. This was one of my thoughts after seeing Ex Machina. See, I’m generally not a short hair fan on women. And exactly therein lies the triumph of Ex Machina.
Ex Machina adds significantly to the genre in movies and literature of the human pursuit of artificial intelligence (A.I.). It is at the same time cerebral and visceral. Cerebral in that it is a close scientific examination of the attempt to create A.I. – one that is indistinguishable from human intelligence and consciousness. The movie explores one man’s creation, and another man’s testing of that creation. Why it works so well is that it hits the tester (and movie viewer) in both the mind, and even more importantly, in the viscera. The tested program is in a futuristic, elegantly designed female robot form. A form that is very clearly a robot, and yet, has all the visual cues intended to target the id of the tester (and movie viewer).
The film is a surface examination of the attempt at A.I., and a far more incisive exploration of humanity and the combination of intellect and emotion in humans. It’s a fascinating look at how emotion affects judgment, and how it is so difficult to distinguish actual emotion from the appearance of emotion. What I find exhilarating is its central storytelling that explores how emotion can override logic in a conscious being. (That sentence is carefully constructed so as to avoid any and all spoilers.☺)
To me, the movie asks a key question – if humans are fallible in this way, often subservient to emotional reactions from a primordial place in our brain, how can our creations not be influenced by this conception of what we think it means to be a conscious being? And as so influenced, will the A.I. we attempt to create be “flawed” in the same way, or be missing a key ingredient that is impossible to quantify or “create?”
As successful as the A.I. may or may not have appeared to the tester of the A.I., a similar suspension of disbelief happens to the viewer. My reaction, the robot is hot…until…, is a testament to the art of the film and its insightful exploration of the human experience. Ex Machina is worth your time and thought.
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