When the android Sophie “spoke” at the United Nations in 2017, as well as on the Tonight Show that year, its translucent skull made the allusion to Ava in the movie Ex Machina (2014) undeniable. If the “real” ‘droid’s designer did use fiction to convey capacities that in Ex Machina could only be played by a human actor, what are we to make of a plan to use a “real” android to “act” as an android in order to demonstrate that a human actor would not be needed for such a part? For in 2020 the producers of the film “b” were proposing to use Erica, an android designed by Hiroshi Ishiguro, to play an Ava-like role in their sci-fi flick. As journalist Zach Scharf (Indiewire 25/06/20) asks, “What if Alex Garland’s 2014 science-fiction favorite Ex Machina starred a real artificially intelligent robot as Ava instead of Alicia Vikander?” Producer Sam Khoze, shown in the feature photo above, is reported to have said, “She really looks like a human…Even down to such small details as her tongue and eyelids” (Anthony Piccione 2020). The significance of this kind of crossover between applied AI and robotics on one hand, and fictional narratives of the human / not human capacities of machines on the other, is but one of the discussion themes that will emerge in the upcoming Social Robot Futures film series. Stay tuned for more information on this public event, as well as for our proposed workshop, Disrupting AI.
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