With the recent release of Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller film, Ex Machina in select theaters on April 10th and a wide release on April 24th, Hollywood’s eternal love affair of androids and artificial intelligence, may have reached new heights, that may bring into question the future of humanity.
Garland, a former screenwriter of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, saw Ex Machina make it’s American debut to rave reviews at SWSW and receive much critical praise for being an engaging piece of sci-fi, bordering on the cerebral.
The premise of the story in which a young computer programmer, Caleb played by Domhail Gleeson winning a week with a Steve Jobs-wannabe in Nathan, played by Oscar Issac, to only fall in love with an android, “AVA” played by Swedish import in Alicia Vikander, begins to raise the question of how humans might interact with AI-controlled androids in the future.
Based on the rave reviews and its early positive buzz, and the low-budget $16.4 million Ex Machina has the makings to be a sleeper hit and possible Best Picture dark horse.
As stated above, this is not Hollywood’s first dalliance into the world of artificial intelligence as modern-day classics such as Wall-E, Her, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Wars, I, Robot, Artificial Intelligence, Terminator, Eagle Eye, Interstellar, The Matrix, RoboCop, Star Trek: Generations, Tron, Stealth and Blade Runner have all dangled the possibility of AI either controlling mankind, or humans daring to push the edges of technology.
Look no further than Marvel’s billion-dollar tent pole, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which has a self-thinking and aware AI as the villain.
I rest my case.
Combine that along with modern-day anime classics such as Mamoru Ohsii’s Ghost in the Shell—which will be made into a live-action film starring Scarlett Johanesson—and famed manga artist/director Masamune Shirow—who also wrote Ghost—in the cyber-punk classic Appleseed, and many fans see the same qualities and themes in Ex Machina.
In terms of some of the technologies featured in Ex Machina and other sci-fi films being used in the present day, it may be closer than you think.
Thanks to advances in technology such as unmanned drones, prosthetic limbs, exo-skeletons right out of Modern Warfare: Advanced Warfare and cloning straight from Michael Bay’s popcorn flick out of yesteryear, The Island, Ex Machina will make many wonder if AI-controlled androids such as AVA will eventually supplant humanity as the dominant species.
If all the movies above offer a common theme and cautionary tale, is that while humans want to push the boundaries of science and technology, it is wise to leave some things alone, and to the imagination, instead of trying to play God.
If Ex Machina can prove anything is that man’s obsession with technology will never end, just as Hollywood’s obsession with artificial intelligence may never be satisfied either.