Future Reality?

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?


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5 thoughts on “Future Reality?

  1. Hi Suzanne,

    Your analysis of Ex Machina was really interesting as I found myself agreeing on many of your points. However, there were a few English mistakes here were present, although they did not interfere much with the understanding of your analysis.

    Now, to answer your questions, I feel like Caleb may not die at the end as desperation will eventually take over him and he would try any other method to get out of the house. He is a very smart person, so I do not think he would just abandon like that. For Ava’s part, there are so many possibilities as to what happened to her and so many legislation problems as well since she does not possess an identity. In addition, she is a computer that Nathan programmed (essentially to attain a certain goal), so can she really integrate into the normal world, since her task was simply to use a vast range of emotions to trick Caleb into helping her escape? Above that, does she really possess the computer coding to survive in the normal world? As she is an artificial intelligence, I really wonder what would she become in the normal world without knowledge of how it works and without anyone to guide her. I do not think that there is a definite answer for your questions on Ava because even as humans, with the possibility to grow and improve, we do not know our future. Anything could happen.


  2. Suzanne! I like how you bring up ethical issues while talking about the movie. While watching Ex Machina, many people only ten to focus on the relationship Ava has with Caleb and Nathan as a whole. You decided to make the readers think more deeply about the content presented in the movie using ethical issues.

    I know a lot of people think that Caleb died at the end of the movie, but he is a very intelligent person and I think he could have survived by using his knowledge. There is always a loopholeto every situation.

    As for Ava, I think that she was not dangerous and only adapted to a normal human life among other human beings. She only showed violence when Nathan was trying to hurt her, so chances are she went on and lived a normal life with a big secret (being a robot and whatnot).


  3. Hi Suzanne,
    I would just like to start off by saying that I really enjoyed reading your post on Ex Machina, as it presented various interesting points to the movie. I agree with all that you had to say in your post regarding the AI and the ethical issues that revolve around them. Although they are built machines, they develop characteristics similar to humans when it comes to their intelligence and cognitive thinking. They almost have a conscious mind of their own and this leads them to actually understand what happens around them. In those terms, they can somewhat be considered like “living” beings. Therefore, the way Nathan treats them can seem quite violent and cruel to our eyes as he treats them like mere garbage and does what he wants and pleases with them. Your explanation for that point was great!

    In addition to that, I really liked your approach on the negative side of AI, on how they can actually surpass human intelligence. Indeed, as humans living in a world where science and technology improve at exponential rate, it is almost impossible to predict the future and the consequences that yield from certain actions done today with accuracy and precision. However, the movie hints at how the AI are still machines at the base despite many similarities they share with humans. Their lack of emotions may even lead them to perform cruel acts on humans, which may bring our own downfall in the distant future. I agree that we must stay vigilant and act with precaution as to what the future may hold.

    As for the questions you asked at the end of your post, I personally think Caleb was unfortunately left with no other fate. The facility has been completely shut and locked down, making it impossible to break free from it unless a miracle happens. So, I do believe he will face his death in that room with no other way out sadly. As for Ava, she goes into the new world like a child facing a new environment for the first time. My guess is that she will end up living a life like humans once she gets to know how life works on Earth. I do, however, believe that her high intelligence and lack of true human emotions (despite the fact that she can be quite good at faking emotions) may somewhat turn against her if noticed by the society.

    It was a pleasure reading your post 🙂


  4. Hi Suzanne!

    I first want to tell you that I really enjoyed reading your blog post because of the way your presented your ideas it was very clear and concise. I like the way you separated your text in several paragraphs, an intro, three body paragraphs each of them focusing one ethical issue and a conclusion. I just wanted to add something that came to me when I was reading your first paragraph of development when you are talking about how Nathan treats his robots like objects and don’t show them any respect, I totally agree with you. But what I also noticed is that all his machines had a sex, they were all girls. He could have easily just not given them a sex but he decided to give them the feminine sex because they were not only used for the advancement of his research, he also created them for his own practical masculine needs. Just something that came to my mind when I was reading your blog post that I wanted to share with you 🙂


  5. Nice work, Suzanne. This is a great post to end the semester. The structure is solid, the writing is too, and I like the fact that you have chosen an approach that is quite different from what others have written. One ethical issue I would include is the way that Nathan treats Caleb, luring him to the research facility under false pretenses, bullying him into signing the release form, and failing to provide him with a safe environment.

    Thanks for your hard work this semester. I just read your written discourse and it is really well done. Hope you get a chance to rest up this summer. Best of luck in university.


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