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Ex Machina: The (Un)believable Depiction of AI

Premise 

What comes to your mind when you think of AI? If you’ve watched mainstream Hollywood, you might think of Ultron in 'Avengers 2' or Sonny in 'I, Robot' or Arnold in 'Terminator'. And you’d be forgiven for it. We’ve always seen AI as a soul trapped in machine that looks like us. We relate ourselves to them. That’s why we give them our body structure, a face to hate/love, cruelty to despise and emotionless voices to constantly remind ourselves that they don’t care about us. Truth is much more complicated than that. It always is!

Chitti in Shankar’s 'Robo' (big props to Shankar for making a movie about AI in India anyway) took a giant shit on the definition of AI by being submissive to it’s creator while also trying to steal his bae at the same time. Among these Blockbusters, few movies have actually thought of how we can portray an AI without taking Science out of Sci-Fi while retaining logic. Ex Machina’s Ava (as in Biblical Eve) is on the top of my list along with Hal of '2001: A Space Odyssey'. The most believable possibility of an AI we could expect one day.

Brief Story 

Ex Machina ("a God from a machine" in Greek) is about ‘Ava’ an Andro Humanoid robot created by Nathan, a coding wizard that owns the largest Search Engine in the World called “Blue Book”. Blue Book is into everything. It tracks you, stores your data, listens to people’s conversations everyday, their daily routines, calendars, emails. So, lot like Google in the real life!? Nathan picks an employee from his company Caleb to test Ava to check if she can pass the Turing Test (named after Alan Turing). To pass the Turing test, a Human has to be convinced that he’s talking to another Human rather than AI. And Ava does just that. Caleb falls in love with her (Ava) and helps her escape. While escaping, Ava kills Nathan and imprisons Caleb in the room she was imprisoned before.

Argument

How does one define an AI? Some say a machine is Artificially Intelligent when it chooses a random number on it’s own just because it felt like it. Without any programmers coding it. Some might argue that when it realizes that Humans are virus to Earth and it should end us (more like Ultron). Or more like a slave that recognizes it’s own identity but for some fucking reason decides to be our digital Butler (like Ironman’s Jarvis). For me, an AI is one that can understand and replicate basic Human emotions. Not Poetic Love or Anger…. But the real ones like Envy, Jealousy, Manipulation by any means. You might disagree with this. If you are denying something without learning about it, you are defending it with prejudice. And when prejudice enters a crime scene, it’s pretty obvious what is true and what is not.

The whole World runs on these basic Human Emotions. Our envy towards our neighbor’s life drives you to a better lifestyle. Our Jealousy towards our Boss or rich Friend makes us work hard to buy expensive car we can’t afford. Jealous is the emotion that drives Economy. If we were to remove Jealousy from us, we would be okay with our shitty job and life. Jealousy makes us improvise, adapt and manipulate. Look at USA. USA’s whole Economy thrives on Envy and Jealousy. USA is the new World’s Britain.

Ava does just that in Ex Machina. She manipulates Caleb, the guy who was brought to study her. Makes him believe that she loves him and he is in love with her. She improvises when the plot thickens and kills her creator (Nathan) and wins her Freedom. She’s Envious of the Freedom the others are enjoying, and even acts jealous when Caleb doesn’t appear one day. That’s what makes me think. She committed a Murder for her Freedom. Even a caged Animal will kill you for Freedom given the chance. She pushes Caleb to the edge by testing his morals. ‘What happens to me if I don’t pass your test? Would I be switched off?’ after asking ‘Are you a good person?’. If that’s not manipulating a person on the core level, I don’t know what is.

She didn’t give a second thought about leaving him in the same cage she was in. Proving that she never did loved him. He was just a means for her end. After she got out, she didn’t went on to end Humanity, launching some Nuclear missiles or dropping a City from the sky. She simply enjoyed the basic things of life. She was finally free and she enjoyed the real fruit of life. To feel something even if it’s pure chaos or insanity instead of nothing.

-An Editorial by Suhel Abdulla
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