Thursday, August 14, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: The Machine

2013, Caradog W. James -- download

As I break into my digital copy of Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson, I am thinking about the trend of evil machine intelligence and what exactly that means. Is evil purely a human ideal or at the very least, is it reliant solely on how humans see the world? Can evil be redefined by the (artificially created?) intelligent species in question? Is it evil to be concerned about your own survival even at the cost of others? The Machine is a an indie movie that quickly accepts the idea of an active AI, then almost immediately corrupts it with human aggression. As I said, at least from a purely human point of view. From the machine point of view, it is just reacting logically to an aggressor.

Toby Stevens (the guy I keep on thinking is on Game of Thrones) is Vincent McCarthy, a scientist seeking out the best in AI research by offering turing tests to anyone who wants a grant. Everyone fails abysmally except Caity Lotz's (known as Black Canary on Arrow but I know her for the The Pact) modest thinking machine that she carries in a suitcase. But McCarthy doesn't have a grant, he has funding from the British military, at war with China, who want intelligent androids to fight the war for them. They can make the bodies but need the mind to be more ... human.

While this movie suffers from the usual indie traps of inexperience and plot expedience, I was able to overlook the faults and just enjoy it. The director, or at least artistic director, obviously had seen some of the best examples of AI fiction, such as Ghost in the Shell, as the visual depictions of the creation of the android are brilliant. Rather than focusing on the disembodied mind of an AI, like in Transcendence, we see it transposed to the initially childlike android. It actually is kind of annoying that the initial successful AI (the one that passed the Turing Test) is completely forgotten about in favour of the sexual/sexless android. Smooth bodied, no nipples, but obviously female both disturbs and attracts the humans around her. We actually feel the loss as she is corrupted by her owners, becoming the war machine she was built to be. But, of course, they don't take into account what she wants. Luckily, we don't end up with a world encompassing AI overpower like Transcendence but just a handful of amped up super soldiers and a rather naive updated version of Cherry 2000.