ByKevin T. Lee, writer at
Kevin T. Lee

Ex Machina directly translated means "from the machine". Derived from the latin phrase Deus Ex Machina which means "god out of the machine". By definition, Deus Ex Machina are solutions that are unexpected and cannot be resolved by common sense instead they suggest a resolution to the underlying problem. Much like the definition, the evolution of Artificial Intelligence leaves us to think that there could be a possibility where a machine can one day have the consciousness to do something so unexpected that we do not anticipate it.

Ex Machina is a visual spectacle paired with the most advanced android. It is an incredible representation of what the AI future holds. This sci-fi flick extends the reality of what we think of Artificial Intelligence by illustrating how machines may learn and adapt. Challenging you as the viewer to think about the interactions. Not just the who, what, where, and when but also the how. As a programmer myself, all these possibilities have me thinking about the future of computer science and robotics.

Artificial Intelligence is a bustling field of research and development. We are currently in the century where technology is advancing so fast that it is near impossible to fathom what is being developed and what will be the next breakthrough. Smart cars, voice controlled operations, advanced network systems, cutting-edge internet technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence systems. These topics only scratch the surface of the latest technologies. This film gets you excited about the future, but also leaves you with a little unease. With technology so advanced, what can we expect or what will surprise us with no solution?

We are nearing an era where robots have sentience and can possess these ideas, actions, emotions that have been portrayed in movies since the beginning of the 20th century. Popular figures include Skynet from The Terminator, David from A.I Artificial Intelligence, Sunny from iRobot. In Ex Machina, we are introduced to Ava starring Alicia Vikander.

Meet Ava created by CEO Nathan.
Meet Ava created by CEO Nathan.

Ava is a sophisticated, female robot who is created by CEO Nathan (played by Oscar Isaac). Caleb played by Domhnall Gleeson gets chosen to spend a week with Nathan in his estate to perform a 'Turing Test' on Ava. The 'Turing Test' is a test on the machine's ability to exhibit human-like behavior. To pass the test, the machine must exhibit consciousnes, and imitate intelligent behavior. Traditionally, the 'Turing Test' is done through a computer. But in this imaginative film, it is performed on a fully developed android. Can she think? Can she feel?

Turing Test - Created by Alan Turing in 1950
Turing Test - Created by Alan Turing in 1950

The mind-blowing fact is that these robots are all combinations of advanced hardware and software that are in development. But what might it take for a robot to achieve a state of being that we can hardly differentiate human behavior from simulated machine behavior..

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) - The ability to analyze sentiment in language. This allows a machine to understand what a phrase means by breaking down structure, syntax, definition and tone. This is used alongside voice recognition. Can you imagine a machine deciphering what you mean when you say, "Dude, that was so sick." -- seems unreal.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - The ability for a machine to analyze the environment and state which influence decisions that will lead them to success.
  • Machine Learning - The construction of algorithms that can learn from data to make predictions and decision. The more data, the more patterns which allow for a more likely accurate result.

These three topics of computer science only tap into a small layer of a robots construction. The hardware and engineering of the robotics adds even more sophistication to enable a robot to achieve sentience. To achieve an android as advanced as Ava, we'd have to combine Siri with natural language processing, tech demonstrated by Honda's own creation - Asimo, decked with some high quality prosthetics and big data systems for machine learning purposes. That's just the beginning. Check out some of these androids mentioned on Cracked:

The android future is near. Don't miss out on this stunning masterpiece by Alex Garland in theaters Friday April 10, 2015.


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