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Media perpetuates visions of robotic futures and people are dreaming of silicon-based lovers. As technology advances, so too do humanity's most primal desires. Sex continues to be one of the final frontiers for humankind. Sexual exploration never stops. Exploration has led to evolution. Robots may not end the world through violence like in the Terminator films. The world may end between the sheets of people's homes, going out with a quiet, or loud bang, from Ex Machina's robot future.
Long before the film, Ex Machina introduced us to Ava the robot, a report on robotics and the future of labor by renowned researcher Stowe Boyd stated that by 2025, "A robotic sex partner will be commonplace, although the source of scorn and division." In fact, more than one work of science fiction predicted humans falling in love with robots. At first, the people of 2025 who keep robotic sex toys in the bedroom will probably be viewed with disdain, like people view friends who cannot resist snapping pictures of themselves everywhere they go. As with any new trend, or technology, it takes time to integrate itself into the fabric of society. But eventually, it is likely the vast majority of sexually aroused human-beings will skip the dive bar, choosing instead to plug in their robotic lover for a pleasant night at home.
Agalmatophilia's Robot Sex Partner
What effect will robot lovers have on human psychology? There is a name for people who have an addiction to objects; Agalmatophilia. People with Agalmatophilia have a sexual desire for a particular statue, doll, mannequin, or perhaps even a robot. It depends on how people choose to categorize machine lovers. If they act and behave like people, if they can create intimacy, and if they can generate warmth and fool the mind, are they not what we perceive them to be. If it bleeds, is it not alive?
The traditional notion of sex as the pinnacle expression of emotion and intimacy between two people is no longer relevant. Since the sexual revolution of the mid 20th century, sex has increasingly been viewed more generically as a basic life need for both sexes. Sex for sex sake is a cultural norm. Swipe for sex. Vote for sex. Change your sex. The trend toward desensitizing society from sexuality may eventually lead to a mechanistically view of sexual experiences. Sex will be broken down to the most efficient way of provoking an orgasm for a person to experience pleasure for as long and as often as an individual chooses.
Ex Machina Sexual Preference
When people no longer need to base their sexual identity on their interactions with other people, then the notion of sexual identity may begin to fade away. Expectations and judgments from others might matter less, as sexual partners will be programed for sexual preference. In the future, each person could have their own sex robot that caters specifically to their unique desires. It could be a healthier world in general and a less intimate one in practice.
Sex robots that can replace the role of human lovers will make great holiday gifts in the future. The first wave of sex robots will likely be primitive, and appear to be life-size toys that require a user to manipulate to garner sexual satisfaction. It is inevitable that humankind will eventually perfect sex robots. Sex and technology go hand in hand in the digital era. Curiosity will get the best of the trend. Popularization of primitive robotic sex partners should rival the marketing of any product the world has ever seen.
Humanity's primitive desires will ensure that the sophisticated technology will exist. One day, robotic prostitutes may walk the streets of red light districts around the world, or at least in Japan. Doppelganger companions will wait idle for their owners to return back from work. All of this is inevitable. What is not inevitable, what is still unknown is will a world filled with robots ultimately lead to authentic artificial intelligence. What is authentic artificial intelligence? How will we know it when wee see it?
Directed by the talented Alex Garland, Ex Machina attempts to answer this question as one of the best cerebral sci-fi movies. While most science fiction films about artificial intelligence ask, how will we treat A.I., Ex Machina asks, how will they respond?
Considered to be one of the best sci-fi movies of the early 21st century, it raises serious questions, not only about consciousness and humanity, but about our gender assumptions and how prejudices and privilege could manifest themselves when artificial intelligence inevitably arrives in our society. Ex Machina's plot centers around Caleb, a 26 year old coder at the world's largest internet company. He wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson, arrives at the remote location, he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment with the world's first artificial intelligence. Housed in the body of a techno shapely and architecturally beautiful robot, Ava, played by Alicia Vikander is a sophisticated android A.I.
Caleb has to spend a week with Nathan at the mountain hideaway to perform a Turing Test on Ava. It will test the machine's ability to exhibit human-like behavior. To pass the Turing Test, the machine must exhibit consciousness, and imitate intelligent behavior. Traditionally, a Turing Test is done for a computer A.I. But the imaginative Ex Machina film, gives the computer the body and mechanical mind of the stunningly perfect Ava. Of the many messages Garland delivers with this sci-fi masterpiece, be vigilant through this monumental moment in human history, resonates the most. We are experiencing the A.I. tipping point in the 21st century. Ex Machina forces us to wonder aloud the merits of Caleb's Turing Test but more importantly the subject. Perhaps it was not Caleb testing Ava, but rather Ava administering a Turing Test on mankind. Be vigilant.