Just finished watching the British-made science fiction film, Ex Machina, which I highly recommend. At first, I thought it would be an updating of the Star Trek original series episode, “Requiem for Methuselah, in which a brilliant creator uses a dupe to ignite the sexual passions within a perfectly conceived female, but it doesn’t turn out that way. In fact, the movie provides a really good summary of the many unsettling implications associated with artificial intelligence.
By forcing us to look beyond ourselves – and, better, yet, to judge ourselves as a species and even to ponder our own evolutionary demise – Ex Machina makes for good science fiction.
Watching this film, I couldn’t help being reminded of Jefferson’s prescient observation to John Holmes about slavery’s growing threat to the fortunes of the young American Republic: “But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”
Perhaps in a few decades, some technological Jeremiah will apply this very quote to the dilemma we’ve created with artificial intelligence.