This movie by Alex Garland was on my watchlist since quite some time. Bring together AI, consciousness, existentialism, deal with the singularity and stuff and you got me talking. There are so many ways that such a movie can go wrong. But that’s not a problem here. The narrative is well thought, and it gets to the point. The movie is also honest with itself. But that’s about just that. In the end there is nothing new to learn, no door opened on further reflection and this is what bugged us.
Spoiler alert! Warning! Spoiler ahead!
I guess there are several possible readings. But if you think it revolved around a robot passing the Turing test, my two cents are that you are probably wrong. Instead the whole purpose wasn’t a test of Ava’s ability to fake human behavior and consciousness as she could probably pass this test with ease (as did her preceding iterations), but whether an average human (Caleb) was still capable of seeing her as just a machine or at least not human. And obviously that test has failed.
My other guess is that Nathan, beside being a total drunk twat hypocritical misogynistic asshole, is actually on our side. This guy is genuinely scared by the consequences that a singularity just round the corner will have on humanity (beyond all ethical concerns). So his purpose was not to create the first human-like AI, but to get one step ahead and limit the damage. He wanted to draw the blurry line that would separate machines from humanity so that he could let those machines exist (which he sees as inevitable), but at the same time ensure that humanity thrives and stays true to itself.
Now being a smart guy, Nathan was capable of this assumption. Also forcing himself to make this distinction had a very negative impact on his personality (probably turning him into the boozer and asshole that he is). But he was truly aware of that which is why he designed Ava with such apparent robotic features and why he needed an external human factor (Caleb) to continue his tests.
OK so after some more explanations by Alex Garland that’s probably not what he meant at all. Instead it really is just a test of how smart she is and will she escape. But I tend to disagree, but that’s just my opinion.