‘Ex Machina': The Consciousness Test

If only Alan Turing was alive today.

He would have enjoyed the acclaim of the movie about his life, The Imitation Game, and the great public interest around his role in helping to end WWII, the beginnings of the modern computer and the test for artificial intelligence that bears his name.

Turing would have been able to share the thrill, as Stephen Hawking did while still alive, in the making of the movie of his life, The Theory of Everything – a film that dramatically places Hawking in the pantheon of great modern theorists.

And he would have delighted in the artful and challenging, Ex Machina a movie set in the near future which uses the Turing Test as a starting point for an exploration of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human.

The movie title is taken from the Latin phrase, Deus ex machina or God out of the machine — a reference to a Greek theatrical device whereby a god is lowered on a mechanical crane to resolve a conflict or problem the clueless humans can’t solve. Interestingly, while removing the god from the title of the movie, man’s god-like ambitions are on full display in this modern day drama.

The action is set in a remote and wildly beautiful hideaway of Nathan, the fabulously wealthy founder of the world’s most dominant search engine, Blue Book. The fact that billionaire Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, describes his company as being in the business of AI or artificial intelligence is, perhaps, not entirely coincidental. The film opens with a Blue Book employee, Caleb, being flown out to his boss’s lair having “won” a chance to spend a week with the great man.

Caleb quickly learns that he is actually there —> Read More