I’ll open by saying that if you haven’t seen Ex Machina, you need to see Ex Machina. Maybe the movie isn’t for absolutely everybody, sure. If, however, you are one of the people who happened to wander your way to this site? You’re in the target audience.
I will repeat what I said in the teaser:
Without getting into Ex Machina spoilers at all (like even fewer than provided by the trailer), I’ll just say this:
1) It has so few actors and so few set pieces that I could see this being done on the stage
2) It is Hard Sci-Fi
3) You need to see this movie
(Warning: Spoilers in here. Warning: This movie is so good that there are actual benefits from not being spoiled.)
So you should go see it.
From this point on, I’m going to assume that you’ve either seen the movie already *OR* you don’t mind being spoiled. Okay? Okay. Let’s do this.
Now, my first assumption after I watched the trailer (but before I saw the movie) was that this was going to be a modern Phillip K Dick story. Like, the guy whose job it is to do the Turing Test is a robot and he doesn’t even know it and the real test is whether he can figure that out.
As it turns out, this isn’t even close. (Though, seriously, I’d watch that movie. I’d watch the heck out of it.)
So the basic story is what you’ve seen there in the trailer: Programmer Guy who works for Ersatz Google wins a contest to go up and spend a week with Ersatz Elon Musk where he finds out that Ersatz Elon Musk has built a robot. “Does this robot pass the Turing Test?” The programmer points out that, hey, he already knows that the robot is a robot and Ersatz Elon Musk says “I want you to *KNOW* that it’s a robot before you go into the experiment and, forearmed with that knowledge, explore whether or not there’s an actual consciousness in there.”
The movie goes on from there.
Now, one thing that I couldn’t help but think as I watched the movie was that passing the Turing Test relies on two variables rather than one. It’s not just “is the potential AI capable of communicating consciousness?” but also “what are the limitations, blind spots, vulnerabilities, etc of the guy actually doing the test?”
I mean, without getting into cruder analogies, if all you have to do is flatter the person involved with the test, then a little flattery will provide a shortcut to passing. Or, to use the Wiki link’s phrasing: “In practice, the test’s results can easily be dominated not by the computer’s intelligence, but by the attitudes, skill or naivety of the questioner.”
And if I may wander into cruder analogies for a second, appeals to sexuality are a great way to game the attitudes, skill, or naivety of the questioner. (And here is where we get into the major spoilers for the movie so don’t rot13 this if you don’t want to be majorly spoiled.)
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And so you’re left thinking about what you were shown, what you were misdirected from seeing even though it was put right there in front of you, and all sorts of arguments about the nature of consciousness, stuff like The Singularity, and how close we are to some of the events in the film.
See it with a friend at an early showing and schedule a meal of some sort for afterwards because you two will really want to argue about the movie after you see it. Seriously.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?