Saturday, May 9, 2015

Steampunk Granny's Take on Ex Machina


I love robots and, I love films about artificial intelligence. I wrote about my love of robots is an earlier post here. Is it possible for a robot to surpass humans? Would they also exhibit a will to survive?  I was especially interested in watching Ex Machina because I have a similar plot going on with one of my characters in my Roof Oasis apocalyptic series, but we’ll talk about her at the end of this film review.

Ex Machina is a British science fiction thriller written and directed by author & screenwriter, Alex Garland. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac.


Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson, a computer programmer working for the world’s most popular search engine company is chosen in a company lottery to meet and assist the company’s CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac).  The quiet and reserved Caleb is flown to the CEO’s secluded mountain hideaway to assist in a project.

Everything is about the project is top secret and to move through Nathan’s home, Caleb has to use a swipe card. There is only one other person there, a young Japanese woman named Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) that Nathan speaks to in a disrespectful manner.


Nathan is a cocky genius who spends most of his time lifting weights and getting drunk.  Nathan wants Caleb to perform the Turing test on a humanoid robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). The Turing test is used to research a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from that of a human. Would Ava be able to generate enough human-like responses to pass the test?


Over the next few days Caleb gradually develops a friendship with Ava who is exhibiting real human emotions. During one of the sessions Ava asks Caleb what will happen if she fails the test. Ava wants to survive, but if she fails the test, her memories will be erased and a new and improved artificial version will take her place.

I won’t go any further with this review because I want you to see the film. The premise of Ex Machina is thought provoking and, I find myself connecting the consequences of cloning and artificial intelligence. Cloning and humanoid robots are both possibilities that can create a moral dilemma that must be dealt with by the Supreme Court.  

What rights will cloned people have in a society that wants them only for their body parts? What rights do humanoid robots have after they’ve been given the ability to think and feel emotions just like a human? The human race has failed miserably in caring for the fauna and flora that share this world with us. We have shown a callous lack of concern for fellow humans in the wars that we rage. Do you really believe we would do better with a cloned person? 

What would happen to us if machines evolved past the three laws of robotics?


In my Roof Oasis apocalyptic series, there is a robotic character named Patty that started out as a child’s companion, but in the second book, Saving Solanda which will be released this summer, is now exhibiting actions that deal with this very topic. When we take that huge step into the realm of creators with either clones or intelligent robots, we face the reality that our creations might consider us, primitive and prime candidates for extinction.

Go see the film! Roof Oasis can be purchased on Amazon and Kindle.


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