When we think about Turing tests, we usually ponder the machines whose artificial behaviors and insights are supposed to fool us into thinking they’re human. We don’t often think about the humans on the other side of those interactions. But in Ex Machina, writer/director Alex Garland turns the Turing test into an ominous, quasi-erotic thriller.
Garland wrote 28 Days Later and the under-appreciated sci-fi adventure Sunshine. With Ex Machina (his directorial debut), he’s delving into artificial intelligence—except instead of Scarlett Johansson teaching Joaquin Phoenix how to love, it’s Domhnall Gleeson interacting with beautiful, lifelike robot to find her worthy:
Caleb Smith (Gleeson), a programmer at an Internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company’s brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test—charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated—and more deceptive—than the two men could have imagined.
The trailer below hints at the various layers of deception occurring at Nathan’s bunker-slash-ranch (why so much security?) and how Ava may wind up outsmarting both men. What’s especially creepy is hearing Ava’s voice deteriorate from human-sounding to increasingly mechanical and GLaDOS-esque.
Ex Machina comes to theaters April 10, 2015.