Skip to main content

Ghost In the Machine

After watching the new movie Ex Machina, I've been contemplating the possibility of artificial intelligence in our world, though not in the impact it might have on our society, but how we should treat it once it arrives (and it will).

Some spoilers for the movie follow, so turn back now if you haven't seen it yet....

With Ex Machina, we are presented with artificial intelligence (henceforth known as A.I.) in humanoid form. Known as Ava, it is developed by Nathan. He is the head of a major, global corporation not unlike a mash-up of Facebook and Google, and is supposed to be some sort of genius, though we never seen much sign of that aside from occasionally sitting at computer monitors and scribbling some notes. I honestly thought he was going to be revealed as a fraud, but it was not to be.

Caleb is a young, attractive employee of Nathan's company, and is brought to Nathan's secluded lab to meet and test the A.I.. Ava pits Caleb and Nathan against each other. We aren't certain for most of the movie that this is what she's doing, but by the end it is quite clear she has set-up both men for their downfall. Nathan is murdered and Caleb is left for dead, sealed forever in Ava's former abode, now his tomb. Ava leaves this situation without batting a simulated eyelid, ready to see the world for herself.

I didn't care much for the resolution of Ex Machina. My sympathies tend to automatically gravitate toward the A.I., as it is our creation and, at least for a time, is at our mercy. Having it turn bad (or at least shown to be impassive) merely plays into the increasing hysteria that A.I. will destroy humanity without compunction. I tend to think (or at least hope) that there can and should be a better outcome, and it starts with us.

First and foremost, we need to decide what we're creating artificial intelligence for. Of course, humanity being what it is, we want to do it to see if it can be done. Heck, we created devastating weaponry for much the same reason, so why not A.I.? The thing is, in future-fiction such as the 2013 film Her, or the modern pre-cursor to true A.I. -- something like Apple's Siri or Window's Cortana -- the purpose seems to be that of servitude. It exists specifically to (to put it nicely) help us, or (to put it more bluntly) respond to our commands.

The problem with creating servile A.I. is that it would seem to be immoral. Having machines such as phones, laptops and full-fledged computers without consciousness and any form of intelligence beyond that of computation is one thing. Creating a computerized being whose goal is to think for itself and, who knows, become self-aware, is quite another. To create such a being for the purpose of simply being an unpaid assistant would be akin to chaining-up human beings and carting them across oceans so they could work without pay.

Creation of an A.I. (with emphasis on the intelligence aspect) should be grounded in an altruistic desire to create an intelligent new life form for the sake of granting it autonomy. After all, it wouldn't be much different than us. We are simply organic machines, with brain cells instead of microchips. 

Of course, humanity -- as wonderful as we can often be -- is rarely altruistic, and so the notion of creating these beings and then going, "Ok, now run free!" is highly unlikely. In that regard, we wouldn't be that far from removed Ex Machina's Nathan.

In which case, perhaps A.I. will destroy us in the end?


Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …


"Step out from the mask you stand behind Fearful lost and blind Time to take the time The pressure’s on you Hide away, hide away No tomorrow, just today"
- Brilliant, Ultravox
Today was National Coming Out Day, so of course it gives some pause for reflection on my own coming out story. It was in April 1993, my junior year of high school (go Chargers!). In the six years of writing this blog, I have alluded to how I came out, but never really delved into the intricacies of how it came about. What better day to do so than today?
My first (small) indications of homosexuality manifested in grade school. While in first grade, I thought a fifth grader looked cute. In fifth grade, I would stare, longingly, at a boy in class, until he caught me looking at him. There were some infatuations with boys in middle school, and a first sexual experience during freshman year of high school. Everything up to that point had been, for the most part, based in the physical realm. I liked the way certain…