by Afra Nariman
Ex Machina (2014)
Director: Alex Gardland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
“Can consciousness exist without interaction?”
From some of the earliest writing on the subject of what makes us essentially human, Aristotle, in his Politics, basically asserts that it is community — or interaction — that is key to our embodiment of whatever human-ness is. He wrote that we are “social animals,” and therefore must interact with others in order to live a good life; or in short, ‘humans cannot live alone.’ (This is also the basis of why we must live morally within society’s parameters).
Ex Machina is one of the most nuanced and insightful depictions of Artificial Intelligence put to screen; and therefore it is also one of the most nuanced and insightful explorations of what makes us human, ever put to screen. The question of Artificial Intelligence is essentially the same as the question of humanity that has challenged thinkers from the inception of theoretical thought — only now we are applying this questioning outwards, rather than inwards. In Ex Machina, both questions are pondered through the perceptive portrayal of themes such as consciousness, experience, free will vs. determinism, memory, morality, and the capacity to care for others — all of which are basic components of what make us human, and therefore of what we would consider conscious A.I.
In however many years from now, people will look back at Ex Machina as one of, if not the, most important and intuitive, relatively early films regarding Artificial Intelligence and it’s intersection with the notion of conscious experience.
Side Note: When I originally switched my area of study from philosophy to film, and was explaining this decision to people as “I’m interested in philosophy through film,” the first thing so many people responded with was, “Oh, like Ex Machina?”
MY RATING /5:
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