“A Wolf by the Ear”

Ex Machina Movie Poster

Ex Machina, a very effective depiction of the implications of AI to the future of humanity.

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.


About Jim Langcuster

A Southern late-Baby Boomer whose post-retirement focus is on building a post-racial, post-Confederate Southern regional identity. If the election of 2016 underscored one thing, it is that this country is intractably divided and that radical devolution of power to localities and states is the only way to save the American Union.
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