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Ex Machina

Friday, July 3, 2015

Would you be happy if your child married an android?


When you meet someone new, your bio-chemistry does an autonomous evaluation: do I fancy her? is there something dangerous about him? will we get on? etc. The overriding sense of the interaction boils down to authenticity. Can I believe this other person enough to trust him or her? Maybe we can be friends – or more. Alan Turing (the subject of The Imitation Game where he is played by the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch) is a kind of hero in Sci Fi in that he suggested a methodology for testing an android or robot to discover whether or not it is sentient and, therefore, human. Ex Machina is a film which pivots on this methodology. It is a philosophical tale of horror where there are strange inversions of the Beauty and the Beast motif. It calls into question our assumptions and attitudes towards ‘others’. The film, The Matrix, was a winner partially because it is based on what many science-philosophers believe to be a possible reality (that we are just clever scripts in an advanced computer program) and in the same way Ex Machina (like Blade Runner before it) asks us whether, if Turing’s tests for sentience are passed, could we eventually treat androids as fellow humans? The film is a discourse on this enigmatic theme, with enough blood and guts to oil the cogs and wheels of its artificial beings. It’s good. It’s chilling. It makes you wonder about the nature of the species.

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