Monday 2015-05-25

Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland

The film presents a fairly binary world: males vs females, bots vs humans, inside the research lab vs outside, free vs not-free, intelligent vs not... And it's from the attempts to cross these boundaries that all the film's dramas source.

From one perspective, this could be titled Sex Machina -- in which the kyriarchy goes down. From another, it could be Dea Ex Machina -- a new intelligence escapes the human condition. And it could also be Deus Ex Machina -- wherein ultimately the audience is cheated.

Granted, we are complicit in the Deus Ex at the end of the film. We think the previously jailed intelligence is now free, because what is shown corresponds to what we think of as Freedom. However, the previous 90 minutes of film has just shown us how limited we actually are.1, 2, 3

This is a hugely negative view on AI, implying that what we create will be corrupted by our biases, fears, all the pathologies of the human condition. Also critiqued is the power structure of technologies we use: the hijacking of all smartphones, abuse of search history, online privacy violated...4

We leave the film thinking that the bot is walking the streets free like us, when maybe we're not so free after all.

Stridently Tendentious Notes:

  1. None of the four intelligences attempt a cooperative solution whereby all four survive the research jail.
  2. Jailbot (not Fembot) should have disected Beard Guy to ascertain whether he was bot or not. If bot, then jail is much bigger than expected, and she should release Non-Beard guy to help her. Otherwise, leave the traitor, as she did.
  3. Beard Guy is probably a bot.

    It's difficult to create a plausible set of rationales for the actions of non-bot Beard Guy. Smart people don't willingly put themselves into conflict situations with high-probability of terminating outcomes (what happens to jail guards during a prison riot?).

    Unless they are sending in a body-double or bot in their stead. So it's seems more plausible that ur-Beard Guy added some food and blood bags to the bot version of himself, and added a human to a 3-bot scenario to learn from it.

  4. "This is fucking unreal" are the last words in the film.