By Angela Watercutter.
Published in Wired.
The Turing Test detects if a machine can truly think like a human. The Bechdel Test detects gender bias in fiction. If you were to mash the two together to create a particularly messy Venn diagram, the overlap shall henceforth be known as the Ex Machina Zone. In writer/director Alex Garland’s thought-provoking new film—out Friday—we meet Ava (Alicia Vikander), an artificially-intelligent robot. Ava’s creator, genius tech billionaire Nathan (Oscar Isaac), has asked his employee Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to determine whether Ava’s thinking is indistinguishable from a human’s. Until she meets Caleb, Ava has only ever met her maker and one other woman. (Hence the failing of the Bechdel Test, which stipulates that a movie must feature two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.) Her existence, and her ability to learn how to interact, is a fascinating study of what makes us human. It’s also a compelling, if problematic, look at the interactions between men and women—or at least that’s what I thought. [ . . . ]