In the film Ex Machina, Caleb, a young programmer, gets the opportunity to visit a modern house that is completely surrounded by nature and isolated from the rest of the world. The only people who live there consist of two human looking robots along with a wealthy man, who is obsessed with the idea of creating the perfect artificial intelligence. Throughout the whole movie, multiple ethical issues were raised and some of them may be more serious than they appear to be.
First of all, the first ethical issue that arises from film could be the way that Nathan, the scientist, treats his robots. In fact, one could question oneself on whether or not it is ethically and morally wrong for Nathan to view his creations as nothing more but objects that he can easily replace at any time even though they do possess a sense of self-consciousness. During the movie, he not only mistreat them on numerous occasions by yelling at them, ignoring them when they are not needed, and commanding them to do so and so, but he also uses them for his own sexual pleasure. On top of that, he keeps the robots caged in the house, and if he ever deems that they are not good enough for what they are intended for, he will simply “kill” them by switching them out like chess pieces, and store them like a prized collection in one of his many “closets”.
Secondly, another ethical dilemma that arises from the film is whether or not humans should have more rights over machines seeing as both species are independent and self-conscious beings. In other words, why would one be allowed to play God over the other? During a session in the movie, Ava asks Caleb what would happen to her if she fails the “human” test, and this question was then met with silence… Nathan, in Ex-Machina, can be perceived as God because he is the one who created the machines i.e. Ava, Kyoko, etc. However, now that the machines are so developed to the point where they have the physical appearance, intelligence, skills, abilities as well as thoughts close to those of a human being, which, in a sense, put them now at the same level as human beings, there seems to be less and less reasons to why Nathan can freely exert power, and decide to put the machines to death as he wishes.
Thirdly, the last instance where an ethical issue is illustrated in the film is when Ava kills Nathan, and decides to betray her friend, Caleb, by ditching him and locking him in her creator’s office to die while she selfishly escapes to the helicopter. This situation shows that artificial intelligence might actually be smarter than what humans consider them to be. The dilemma which emerges from this is whether or not progress in technology is really a good thing. This movie warns about the fact that today’s and tomorrow’s modern progress in the scientific and technological fields must not be taken lightly seeing as there is a very high possibility that machines might later on rebel and take over the humans’ place after completely destroying the human species.
Finally, Ex Machina is an excellent movie that allows one to deeply reflect about the possible outcome that may result from the modern advances. It contains many relevant ethical issues, such as the objectification of “lower” beings, the domination of one species over the other and the consequences from pushing progress too far. The end of the movie was quite a big shock and quite scary, despite the fact that it was somehow left for the viewers’ imagination. What do you think happened to Caleb afterward? Is there any other choice besides death? What do you think Ava did after she went back to the city? Did she simply adapt to the new lifestyle?