Hearing more and more about the fact that the robots are coming, we decided we better brush up and find out what real is going on in this space. We’ve (thankfully) been hectically busy lately and decided our research would start with a review of some of the TV and film productions in this space.
One quick internet search reminded us of some of the very old stories in this space … from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Star Trek’s Data both show how old the concept is and also the moral warning that these artificial intelligence can be monstrous or helpful, so advance at our peril.
Robert watched Human’s, a series on 4OD, Alan watched Ex_machina, the 2015 movie staring Domhnall Gleeson and Robbie watched the Machine, the 2013 budget movie. Here’s what they have to say:
I recently watched Ex_machina and was very pleased with the movie. It is an AI movie Caleb (Gleeson) wins the opportunity to stay at his boss’ luxurious retreat. The winwas staged, Caleb was the chosen employee, picked primarily for his programming skills. Out in his extremely remote retreat, Blue Book’s owner, Nathan has been working on creating a humanoid, Ava, and needs Caleb to test the human qualities of his latest model.
The movie is filled with revelations, each one taking you deeper into the twisted mind of Nathan, juxtaposed the wholesome moral compass of Caleb. The story is regularly on the cliffs edge, and managed to keep me there until the very end.
I highly recommend you watch Ex_machina and so I’m doing my best not to reveal too much of the story. It has moments of comedy, Nathan and Kyoko, his house-servant dancing to “Get Down Saturday Night”, romance, Caleb and Ava fall in love, and impending danger as Caleb tries to out wit Nathan.
It’s a movie that I know I’m going to watch over and over again. It touches on many societal issues in the background, while the position, benefits and potential danger of artificial intelligence is to the fore. Gender stereotypes are explored in the relationships between the characters and Nathan alone plays out the ‘nerd becomes cool jock’ stereotype. The movie encourages us to think about the benefits to our lifestyles, while serving as a stark warning of the dangers we may get trapped in (you’ll need to watch the end of the movie to appreciate that pun).
Microwave the popcorn, pour out a drink and get comfy, this is one we’re recommending!
I’m going to take credit for kicking off the AI watching at Datalytics! I watched Humans sometime last year and when a conversation came up about AI in the office I was keen to recommend this series on 4OD.
Across the eight episodes, Humans tells the story of Synths, synthetic people created and programmed to carry out tasks such as domestic duties, childcare, gardening, general assistance and companionship.
The series is primarily based around the Hawkins family who buy Synth Anita to help bring some balance to their chaotic lives. Mum, the skeptic, is away from home a lot with work and Dad, introduces the synth to enable the family to spend more time together. Anita’s presence just amplifies what was wrong with the family in the beginning – hints of infidelity become real and bubbling teenage angst boils over.
Anita introduces more of her Synth friends to her new family and they reveal the dark side of their existence, where their hard drives are being reprogrammed to force them into a life of crime. The Hawkins, along with other Synth fans rally together to save their bot friends.
Compared to other AI shows and movies, Humans is a lighter watch, “sci-fi for the non sci-fi fan, sci-fi that has more than a foot in sci-fact” according to one Guardian review. It was at time a little contrived, stuffed full of concepts and social lessons, but I still think its worth a watch as a light cautionary tale for what might be instore if we chase the next must have device!
In The Machine, McCarthy (Toby Stephens) is working for the Ministry of Defense creating cybernetic implant to allow injured soldiers to recover lost functions. McCarthy hires a research assistant, Ava, who begins to realise all is not as it seems at their lab.
The movie plays out a lot of conflicts, between the researchers and their boss, Dawson’s mother protesting at what has happened to her soldier son, McCarthy’s daughter suffering from Retts syndrome and his hope of helping remap her brain, the military re-using injured soldiers. Like most movies in this genre, these conflicts encourage us to think about the moral implications of what might happen as robotics advance.
At times it was hard to keep track of all of the mini plots and themes running through The Machine and I think less might have been more in this case. Given that the lab is in a top secret bunker, how does Dawson’s mother get to wander up and protest every day?
The movie contained enough action, interactions and romance and sci fi to keep me hooked and the character development, particularly of The Machine, is interesting and not always predictable. It held my attention though and I was clued to it to the end.
With its huge similarities to Blade Runner and the never ending reminders of the dangers artificial intelligence can bring, this movie felt like it was lacking something unique. It is one to watch, but maybe more of a mid-week movie than a weekend treat!
13th May, 2016 by Datalytics