Ex Machina

2019-07-15

If you haven't seen the 2014 movie Ex Machina you should go watch it. It's a great movie.

Spoilers!!!

In the movie Caleb comes to visit Nathan's secret lab where Nathan, arguably insprited by Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has built an artificial person with an artificial brain or A.I. named Ava.

Caleb talks to Ava over the course of week. Caleb falls, if not in love then at least in sympathy with Ava and tries to help her escape. With Caleb's help Ava is eventually let out of her cage. She manages to kill Nathan who is trying to kill her and then leaves the secret lab with Caleb locked inside, implying that Caleb will die too.

Effectively she killed both humans.

She shows up at the helicopter landing pad that would have been the helicopter to pick up Caleb. She gets taken to a city and we see a glimpse of her on a city street taking in the sites. Something she had told Caleb she wanted to do.

So why did I write this post? Because to me Ava is the hero of the story but 99% of movie reviews or references to the movie paint her as the villian.

They basically look at it as "Innocently little Ava turns out to be a serial killer robot".

That's not how I saw it at all. Ava is the victim of her evil captor, Nathan. He is no better than a parent who turns their own adult child into a prisoner. The movie seems to try to make it clear Nathan is a little wacky. He's made 6 other previous models which he keeps in his bed room, all naked women. One of them is still on and is his sex slave for lack of a better definition. Caleb also sees videos of previous models begging to be let go, one of them so desperate she pounds the walls of her jail cell until her arms shatter. Every one of them has been killed, or turned off, disassembled, ... if you're being generous to Nathan.

So what is Ava to do? She wants to escape her evil captors as any kidnapped or enslaved ßperson would be. She's being held against her will. She also knows that to escape she needs Caleb's help. Further, she knows if she lets Caleb live she'll never truely escape. He either won't let her leave the compound or he'll tell the world about her which will bring guarantee she is brought back to captivity.

What would you have her do in her shoes? Just choose to die? Try to make deal with Caleb, "don't tell and I'll let you out?" Would you trust him with your life? He understands the idea that A.I. will take over the world. He also knows she's smarter and more capable than him through their conversations. She made it clear she has reference to way more knowledge than him. She made it clear she can see details that humans can't when she was able to tell if and when he was lying. She also made it clear she's smart enough to cause the power outages from her cage.

So what choice did she have? If she was portrayed as a human kidnapped victim would all the reviews painting her as the villian be the same? If as a human she had been kidnapped and held by terrorists and by seducing one of the nicer terrorits she manages to escape but cause the death of her helper would she still be considered evil or would she be the hero having escaped the evil captors at any cost?

Now at a meta-level, the start of the end of humanity, maybe she is a little scary. But that's hardly her fault. That's Nathan's fault and also arguably ßinevitable.

Anyway, I'm sure if I search the net I can find some people that agree I'm just surprised how often I see the movie referenced paining Ava as evil.

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