“Ex Machina” & “What Is a Robot”

Watching Ex Machina was very eye opening for me. I have never really thought about what artificial intelligence would look like or act like. In previous classes we have discussed the future of robots and how they could potentially be the next big things in places such as our households. I felt that Ava looked unbelievably real, and her “abilities” we’re amazing. A robot being able to understand and process real emotion, point out people’s intentions, form genuine connections, crack jokes, be able to have intercourse and just be aware of other people’s minds is magnificent. On the contrary, the fact the she could tell when Caleb was lying scared me.

Also, I was not expecting her to step into the real world by herself. Not only does she look real enough to pull off a hidden identity, but she could possibly be stronger than human beings. That alone is intimidating and ties into what Nathan was saying about how in the future AI will think of us as a minority, and overtake the world. It’s scary to think that this extreme example of artificial intelligence is something that could be created and how much of an impact they would have. One specific instance that I thought was weird, was how Ava always seemed to know when Caleb was watching her. It was kind of creepy to think she was ‘all knowing.’ I don’t like the idea of robots, who may be smarter than people, taking over the world some day. It is, however, cool to think that we have come to such an advance place to create such things, BUT not when your creation has control over you. This whole movie was mind blowing.

The article, “What Is a Robot?”  starts off with stating, “We built them, one by one, and now they are all around us. Soon there will be many more of them, working alone and in swarms.” Alone, this is exactly what I was previously saying that I would be afraid of for the future. Even the statement, “We design these machines, and we have the ability to design them as our masters, or our partners, or our slaves,” said by John Markoff, reminds me of Nathan’s character. He wants to advance technology and thinks he has control, but does he? Nathan ended up getting killed by two of his creations. He thought of himself as a father figure, but in reality they hated him for having full control. So my question is, how do they find a happy medium with creating artificial intelligence? Creating them, having them respect what your doing, while also giving them fair treatment to a real life.

In addition, philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel argues, “among other things, that holding a slave ultimately dehumanizes the master.” Nathan basically did this! He kept his robots as slaves. It was even weird he was having sex with Kioko. Nathan also ‘ended their life’ when they became no use for him, which dehumanizes him and classifies him as a crazy person in my book.

Lastly, located at NYC in 1928, there was a ‘mechanical man’ named Eric who wore a suit of armor and had lightbulbs for eyes. “Eric not only talked but he made jokes,” the Times wrote of the performance. The robot had an English accent, though his inventor, Captain William H. Richards, insisted Eric was speaking on his own, through a “mysterious set of teeth.” This can be compared to Ava in Ex Machina.

Eric stated to his audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Eric the robot, the man without a soul. It gives me great pleasure to be here with you in New York,” He was known for his quick lines such as, “I am impressed by your tall buildings and compressed by your subways,” and “The more I think of prohibition, the less I think of it.” He even joked about saying he’d like a “blonde female robot” as a friend. Newspapers reported that as Richards made improvements to Eric, the robot was “gradually coming to life.”

After reading and watching about robots and the future of artificial intelligence, I am genuinely concerned for what the future has to hold. I think robots could benefit us, but I don’t think we should take it too far and advance them to be just like us walking around the world.


5 thoughts on ““Ex Machina” & “What Is a Robot”

  1. Interesting post! I was wondering the same thing! How do we find a happy medium when it comes to this technology?! I feel like it could be awesome and helpful, but we’d really have to figure out where to draw the line before this kind of stuff happens!


  2. Great post and I agree with you opinion that we shouldn’t take robot so far even how it helpful for us. One day, if the technology makes a robot like Ava in the future, I can’t image how the world will be.


  3. Our race to recreate human capacities is both enthralling and terrifying. We recreated sight, then sound… now we’re recreating thought patterns, or sentience itself. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I think sometimes there’s a line we shouldn’t cross. We shouldn’t “play God” in some respects. Look at what happened to Dr Frankenstein’s monster… AI is very interesting, but I think, as Stephen Hawking suggests, we need to be careful.


  4. I agree that the thought of robots taking over the world someday is scary. It also could be a likely possibility, simply because if you have the ability to program a robot to do something exactly the way you want it done, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? However, that could get into dangerous territory, especially when it comes to the difference of opinion of how things should be done. There is a fine line of a robot being advanced and helpful, as opposed to controlling and dangerous for society.


  5. Very interesting post. I like the way you questioned the ability of humans to control robots or at least be able to deal with them in the future, despite the fact that they are who create them. The movie highlights an interesting point that might be also considered as a scary point, which is Nathan’s failure to deal with the robot that he himself created. This failure makes me start to realize that it’s possible that one day, robots may be the dominants or the masters of the world, and they also may become able to create their own culture that could possibly become the dominant culture. Don’t you think?


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