“Ex Machina”: what will the androids do?

As we move closer and closer to creating actual artificial intelligence, sci-fi gives us interesting speculation as to what it would do. In other words, once a computerized machine achieves abilities equal to our superior to ours what motivations will it have? Ex Machina adds its own interesting twist.

You can tell when a movie was a genuine art experience if you’re still thinking about it a week after you saw it. The mood and imagery in this very small, claustrophobic film, does that, or at least it did it to me. My movie buddy liked the film but wasn’t as impressed as I was. She particularly pointed out that the entire story, and the presentation of it, are male chauvinistic to a high degree. The guy who makes the androids, you see, makes them as full-frontal-nude women and openly brags about their sexuality.

He’s not a nice fellow. He’s a computer prodigy-whiz who has himself all confused with God Almighty. The other human in the story, another highly competent nerd, tries to find his way through all the manipulations of the “machine master” while also sorting through his feelings for the gorgeous and empathetic android he “interviews” every day.

The story is well told. In the serene mountains of Norway, the genius has built a completely automated laboratory. His creations are perfect and respond to him just as he wants. In the old days before PC’s took over, data processing departments were cold, nearly freezing, clean to the point of hygenic, and no one spoke with any emotion. It was intense. It was macabre. So is Ex Machina. Don’t miss the dance scene!

From the beginning, I wasn’t interested in either of the humans. I wanted to know what the android would want. In the great sci-fi masterpiece, I, Robot, the machines are programmed with simple rules that eventually lead them to take progressive leadership and benefit humans in ways that they can’t understand or imagine. In the Terminator series, up to about 47 sequels now, the machines are determined to kill us all. A recent effort, Chappie, had a robot so brilliant that he could transfer his consciousness into another, superior, machine. He could also provide eternal life to humans by transferring theirs, and he was happy to do so. I liked Chappie even though it got the worst reviews I have ever seen.

The computer program that entranced Joaquin Phoenix in Her eventually abandoned him because she wanted to seek higher knowledge in a network of other computer programs. She let him down gently, though. Hal, in 2001, wanted mission success so much that he decided to kill all the imperfect humans who might mess it up.

What will the exotic woman/android in “Ex Machina” want? When actual artificial intelligence is created, and it can’t be far away, what will it want?

“Ex Machina”

Written and Directed by Alex Garland

Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Rated R, 108 Minutes

Photo: Movie website


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