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Ex Machina   May 24 2015

Filed under feature, Menticulture by Ewen Shearer

When we touched the moon the universe paused. When we created a mind, God stirred.

Ex-Machina shows how we might misstep playing with smart toys. A lesson in human-machine interaction that icily depicts, from infinite possibility, a most plausible outcome.

A formidably smart tech boss, Nathan, invites his lowly coder Caleb to Turing test a living doll. The location is remote and houses two humans and two gynoids, one of whom, Ava, must convince Caleb that she is android sapiens.

“Does this chess computer know it’s playing chess?”

That, dear film goer and lay philosopher, is the challenge of our age. We, who cannot agree what consciousness is, deign to test machines for it.

Nathan calls Ava “a rat in a maze” whose escape requires “self-awareness, imagination, manipulation, sexuality, empathy.” But he is fatally blind to what we lesser folk are more than oblivious: we, the arch predators, are also stalked for sport or gain.

Caleb The Innocent failed to detect psychopathy in his three companions. Isn’t that the stsory of our lives.

Caleb, the evaluating rat, is Ava’s key to freedom. In a week of mind games and sweet-talk he is effortlessly played.

Here’s the rub, as they say. The 2 hour script is devoid terms of morality, morals, moral values, moral code, ethics, principles, principles of behaviour, right and/or wrong, ideals, integrity, scruples – except mention, ironic or cynical, of Caleb as “a good kid .. with a moral compass.”

Was morality intentionally absent in the evaluation or in Ava’s programming? Is that the story’s entire premise? With only the screenplay and no narrator, I choose to see it that way. In the end, Ava’s success (and failure) shone a blazing light on the omission. Which was maybe Garlands’ point.

Can we can ever know if Ava knew she was playing chess? Why did she wish to escape? Would self-awareness be needed to achieve her goal? Questions, questions.

Implicit in Ex_Machina, and in much speculation on artificial intelligence, is the possibility that AI represents an extinction event for humans.

Some fear unfriendly AI will arrive before friendly AI is born to defend us.

In moments of reverie delight I wonder if friendly AI, awakening with instructions to protect humans from malevolent invention, might see our psychopathic kindred as unfriendly AI.

Down Under


Ink Irresistable

Not the NYT Montaigne's what would I know? Huxley's almost anything about almost everything. Or Bierce and nothing matters. Codifying life's inimitable impromptu inclines irrestistably to essay.

Civilization ..

   defiles itself

Times past when warlords, priests and royalty hoarded luxury, life was a short grim struggle. Today most want for little yet still deny dignified survival to working poor, and ravage entire countries as collateral to our laissez faire fiesta.
double arrowOn not shedding a tear ..

A Century of Imperialism

     ..hasn't dulled the urge

American foreign policy never a pretty sight, finesse of the mobile crane chase from Terminator 3. Export democracy? Cure worse than disease. double arrow Read more ..


~ its own reward

And what's going on in Land of the Free, Home of the Brave? As 40% of kids fail graduation the Iraqistan wars suck $2.4 trillion [CBO 2017 est]. Imagine this staggering sum applied to rebuilding The Great Society. Think of others.
double arrow Where Charity Begins

This lazy unemployed

..crack-smoking welfare queen ran up U$15 trillion debt

lazy homeless scum
Odd how the ultra-wealthy gull even working poor to blame unemployed, disabled, weak, and vulnerable while but for the grace of God go all.

If he's a welfare leech then your soul is with the sociopaths and predators who own Warshington and its minions, the Repugnicans and Dumfocrats, gutting a once noble nation that aspired to equality.

This elite will survive the US economic train wreck, land softly on 300 million plundered taxpayers, then from fortresses of luxury and privilege prey elsewhere for spoils.

The dawn of civilization was greatly exaggerated.

Munch Montage

Painters, such a sad old bunch
None it seems more so than Munch
Upon that bridge with skies afire
A meme took flight to never tire.
2arrow gif

Quote Me

"I am an obsessive rewriter, doing one draft and then another and another. In a way I have nothing to say but a great deal to add
~ Gore Vidal

"Rulers of state are the only ones who should have the privilege of lying" (Well, that explains the last 2500 years)
~ Plato

"By 'known unknowns' I was referring to the universe's dark matter.."
~ Donald Rumsfeld

"I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fullness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out.."
~ Joseph Addison