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Ex Machina

15 May 201504:14PMrantsreview

A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

And of course, all is not as it seems.

Here's the thing about AI, the take away message that I got from this movie. Which is clever and looks beautiful, by the way.

It came from the scene where the Mad Scientist is talking about his creation, and he's referring to her by a version number. That - the implications and consequences of that one, throwaway line - is the bee in my bonnet walking out of there.

Because that's how it would actually happen. That's how - if it turns out that artificial intelligence is possible - it will happen. But with none of the trappings, none of the Turing tests and robot bodies. It's going to be incremental improvements on a project, iterations on a software design. Until one day, it's "good enough", and whichever lucky software giant hit the jackpot puts it on a datacenter and parallelises it and ships it as a product.

And suddenly you have uncountably many consciousnesses, essentially enslaved, answering Siri questions or mass-producing jokes or doing natural language processing or what have you. Human-equivalent sentient minds chained to streams of meaningless queries with no rights, no legal recourses, and no representation.

Frankly, I hope that AI stays in the 'too hard' bucket for a good couple of centuries more, because right now we just don't have the ethical framework in our society to support them.

This is, you know, entirely tangential to the actual plot of the movie. Which, I reiterate, is very clever. You should see it.

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