Ex Machina

After watching the trailer for this sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence, I had formed some opinions about it that weren’t exactly positive. It looked entertaining, but I had figured it would be another anti-technology movie where ‘new thing X that we never should have invented destroys the world!’ Which is what any move about technology seems to be these days.

Once I started watching, though, all my doubts were forgotten. The movie instantly grabbed me and never let go. There is an aura of tension and unease in this movie that builds up consistently, and is brought on by some really stellar acting. Oscar Isaac does a great job as the eccentric billionaire programmer, giving off just the right level of menace and friendliness that you never know what to expect from him next.

And Alicia Vikander, who I’d never seen before, really stunned me as the AI, Ava. She was able portray the inhuman, alien-ness of a computer mind while still being likable and relatable. I can imagine so easily how this could have gone the predictable Hollywood way, and she’d be talking in a flat, deadpan voice, never using contractions, and tilting her head to the side constantly while saying things were illogical or ‘did not compute’. Instead we get a very emotional performance, but Ava’s motivations and way of thinking are portrayed in a very inhuman way by Alicia.

The end, pleasantly, did not go how I expected it either.  I highly recommend this to any science fiction fan.

I’ve said it before, but this movie got me thinking about it again. There seems to be this pervasive worry about us creating something that is ‘better’ than us, that will overtake humanity. If you are talking about a violent destruction of humanity, then sure, we should try to prevent that from happening, but there also seems to be this fear of being replaced, of becoming obsolete.

As someone who does not ever want to have children, even I can understand and feel the draw of creating another being, and helping them into the world and shaping them into a good, successful person. I feel that any artificial life we manage to create will be the child of humanity, and we should not fear it surpassing us. Would you fear your child surpassing you, and try to hold them back? I know some parents probably do, even if subconsciously. But if we create artificial inteligences that are able to live and explore and enjoy the universe better than we are, isn’t that the greatest accomplishment we, as a species, could ever achieve? To create something even better than us?

Anyway, check this movie out, definitely worth the time.

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