Ex Machina raises questions not only about the implications and consequences of artificial intelligence, but also about the very nature of AI and what qualifies as true AI. The plot of the movie is centered around Caleb’s testing of Ava the android. Nathan wants to find out if Ava is a true artificial intelligence using a modified version of the Turing Test, in which Caleb can actually see that Ava is an android and will judge how human-like and convincing Ava’s interactions with him are with this knowledge in mind. The movie implies that Ava is in fact a true artificial intelligence, at least by Nathan’s standards, since she was able to find a means of escape essentially by seducing Caleb.
Before it is revealed that Nathan’s test all along was to see if Ava could use Caleb to escape her enclosure, Nathan asks Caleb something to the effect of: “Does Ava actually like you, or is she just simulating liking you?” According to Nathan, Ava needs to actually like Caleb to be considered a true AI. I, however, disagree with this portrayal of the qualifications of true artificial intelligence. I don’t think there is a difference between Ava’s liking Caleb and Ava’s simulating liking Caleb. To an outside perspective, these two scenarios look exactly the same, so for all intents and purposes, there is no difference between the two. The same follows for the more general idea of a robot having consciousness: if a robot can perfectly simulate having consciousness, that is just as good as the robot actually having consciousness, since the two would be indistinguishable from an outside perspective.
- Ex machina: Ava's Analysis. First action: Ava is trying to establish relationship with Caleb. She is interacting with him and starts to ask him some questions. She asks questions about his family, his job and many more. The reason why she is trying to create a relationship with Caleb is because she wants to change Caleb's perception of herself.
- Ex Machina: Directed by Alex Garland. With Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Sonoya Mizuno. A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I.
- Ava could be the world’s first true artificial intelligence. However, her existence is being kept secret until she passes the Turing Test, which measures a machine’s ability to demonstrate behavior that is equivalent, and even indistinguishable, to a human’s. So for now, Ava lives an isolated and lonely existence with few human interactions.
- As it's not on YouTube yet, I'd like to share this awesome part of the movie Ex Machina (2015). It's the best part of the movie in my opinion!
Later, Nathan refers to his previous question to Caleb, this time adding a third option: that Ava could be merely pretending to like Caleb for her own benefit. This proves to be true because Ava leaves Caleb trapped inside Nathan’s research complex as she escapes. With this, the movie seems to be making the point that AI’s ability to be manipulative and self-serving is a better determining factor of true AI than its ability to convincingly simulate a conscious human. This point lines up with the more depressing and apocalyptic predictions on the consequences of AI. The fear of an AI uprising and domination of humanity, which the movie seems to support, although on a small scale, doesn’t line up with the Turing Test, which the movie also supports. An AI uprising is a form of non-human behavior, but the Turing Test states that the robot’s intelligence and behavior must be indistinguishable from that of a human in order to pass as a true AI. By the Turing Test’s definition, AI should be just like humanity, which would mean it would see itself as human and therefore not feel the need to rise up against humanity.
I actually don't think that Nathan believes Ava is sentient until she kills him. The callousness with which he discards these AIs shows us that - but he seems to sort of accept his fate in a way, at the end. He mutters, 'Unreal!' His murder is the physical manifestation of the antiquation of humankind he prophesizes earlier in the film.
By this reasoning, it is questionable whether Ava passes the Turing test. Whether or not she is true AI is ambiguous, further complicated by the conflicting levels of humanity she exhibits. At the end, she leaves Caleb trapped, where he will almost certainly die. This is an example of mercilessness and lack of humanity, since Caleb cared about her and hadn’t done anything wrong to her. Immediately after she leaves Caleb to die, she walks out into the natural world with an expression of awe and happiness, characteristics that indicate she possesses humanity. The movie ultimately leaves her humanity uncertain. On the surface, the movie portrays Ava as a true artificial intelligence, but in the end, it is up to the viewer to question the nature of AI and whether or not Ava qualifies.
Did you program her to flirt with me?
If I did, would that be cheating?
Nathan Ex Machina
Caleb, what's your type?
No, salad dressing. Yeah, of girl; what's your type of girl? You know what, don't even answer that. Let's say its black chicks. Okay, that's your thing. For the sake of argument, that's your thing, okay? Why is that your thing? Because you did a detailed analysis of all racial types and you cross-referenced that analysis with a points-based system? No! You're just attracted to black chicks. A consequence of accumulated external stimuli that you probably didn't even register as they registered with you.
Did you program her to like me, or not?
I programmed her to be heterosexual, just like you were programmed to be heterosexual.
Ex Machina House
Nobody programmed me to be straight.
Ex Machina Ava Kills Nathaniel Hawthorne
You decided to be straight? Please! Of course you were programmed, by nature or nurture or both and to be honest, Caleb, you're starting to annoy me now because this is your insecurity talking, this is not your intellect.