Freaked out by artificial intelligence? Don't watch the trailer to "Ex Machina"
One of the good things about living in a scarily disruptive era of unprecedented surveillance and technology is that it makes for great fodder for artists. From "Her" to "Black Mirror," the past couple years have brought some terrifying and terrifically entertaining science fiction stories that speak volumes about today's world. After all, with technological advancement moving faster than ever, the future worlds imagined by these films have never been closer to reality.
While my anxieties tend more toward out-of-control corporate surveillance and the emotional wreckage caused by technology addictions, there's one fear that's as old as the golems of Jewish lore: A robot takeover.
These fears aren't limited to wearers of tin foil hats, either. Elon Musk, one of the smartest guys on the planet, recently likened artificial intelligence to "summoning the demon."
"In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”
Now, in the tradition of HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey" and Skynet from "Terminator," there's a new cinematic robot that may or may not be terrorizing humanity: Ava.
Ava is the star automaton of "Ex Machina," the directorial debut of "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine" screenwriter Alex Garland. In the film, Oscar Isaac of "Inside Llewyn Davis" plays the CEO of an "Internet search-giant" (Google anyone?) who invites one of his programmers ("Black Mirror"'s Domhnall Gleeson) to administer a "Turing Test" -- that is, the test to determine if a robot can replicate behavior that is indistinguishable from that of humans.
From the trailer, it's difficult to say whether Ava is a potential menace like HAL, or if, like in "Frankenstein," the real monster is the creator CEO. In any case, here's hoping that "Ex Machina," which opens April 10, 2015, is another winning entry in the new science fiction canon, which is looking less and less like fiction every day.
Watch the full trailer: