Ex Machina (2015) is a science fiction psycho-thriller directed by Alex Garland. The film is about an alcoholic, abusive, genius with a god complex who creates an artificial intelligence (AI) that appears to meet popular metrics in determining personhood. The AI’s creator, Nathan, wants to find out whether or not his AI, Ava, is capable of deceiving a human. The target of this deceptive test is the human, Caleb. The end of the film results in a challenge for some regarding whether or not Ava is actually a person or simply just a complex machine with complex programming. This challenge is easily avoided by recognizing that bad people are still people.
Ava is a Person
Whether or not Ava is a person is difficult to succinctly argue due to the wide range of opinion and the very philosophical nature of what we would refer to as person-hood. My current personal definition is an amalgamation of John Locke’s persistence of consciousness, Aristotle’s seeking of the means in attaining the good life, and some of Carl Sagan’s thoughts on person-hood as well. In an attempt to not make this paper about the argument of Ava’s person-hood, I will summarize my qualifications for it and assume the reader either agrees with my metric or via their own metric have concluded that Ava is a person. My requirements are that a given entity displays three qualitatively measured values of specific traits and that the entity has persistence of persona (it can switch off, but not permanently else it loses its person status.) The three traits are sentience, heuristic capability, and synthesis. The first two traits are straightforward; the latter requires a little more detail. In saying synthesis, I am referring to an entity’s ab...
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...his case, a human.) Ava is a person too. She can never be called a human in my book; however, she is definitely an entity who is a person. Not only a person, but one who identifies and portrays feminine characteristics. She is a she. This film forces a viewer to re-evaluate some of their definitional thoughts on person-ness. As a person, Ava should be entitled to the same acknowledgement that a human (also a person) would receive in a complicated situation involving abuse and murder. She may have murdered, and she may be bad, but she is still a person. In this film, you are forced to think about this complicated situation not involving a human perpetrator, but a machine. If you accept that Ava is a person, it is easiest to simply remember that bad people are people too. She deserves the complicated deliberation we would give an abused, murderous human during a trial.
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