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Ex Machina: Love & the Machine - Molly Murphy Wittig, Ph.D.

I’m obsessed with this movie, and I can’t stop thinking about it. The premise is this: A young coder, Caleb, is selected to join genius and CEO, Nathan (think Steve Jobs), at an undisclosed location to assist in an experiment. Caleb is asked to assess the human qualities of Ava, the first female with true Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).

Love it or hate it, the development of Artificial Intelligence is underway. With a large, aging population in most first-world countries, namely Japan and the US, the need for caregivers is pressing. Machines can be the solution. Yet if this is to work, our robotic caregivers must be lifelike and not cold and robotic. So at present, robots are getting faces that look human and a covering that resembles skin. They are learning the nuances of language and emotion. The technology is not yet perfected and thankfully these A.I.’s are still easily identifiable as nonhuman and mildly comical in their awkward attempts to mimic us.

Ex Machina takes a look at the next big leap. It pokes at that niggling fear in all of us, that someone, perhaps at this very moment, has achieved the creation of an AI that is so realistic that it is virtually undetectable as nonhuman. When machines achieve consciousness, our lives will be changed forever.

For most of us, we would feel much the way Caleb did, a sense of amazement and curiosity.

Caleb spends time with A.I. Ava and forms a real connection. Do we not wish for that same experience as a caregiver for our aging parents and grandparents? Yet, for all the good that can come from A.I., there is also a darker possibility. A.I. poses a very real potential for misuse and to become a threat.

Ex Machina has haunted, terrified, and exhilarated me. We are venturing into unchartered waters of a robot-enhanced future and many questions arise. Could A.I. assimilate us? Will we lose ourselves like the obese and helpless population of Wall E? Does Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics hold the answers to protect us? To ensure that A.I. is safe for human companions much consideration of safety and ethics must be done first. Without such work, we are sure to be assimilated.

Resistance is Futile.

Dr. Molly Murphy Wittig specialises in anxiety in adults and children. In a relaxed setting, clients gain the tools to cope, transform, and thrive through the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and acceptance commitment therapy (ACT).

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