Ex Machina

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Ex Machina: Is Caleb a Robot?

In Ex Machina, Caleb is picked to have conversations with an artificial intelligence, Ava. While it is clear that Ava is an android, Caleb is introduced as human. However, there have been many theories that Caleb himself is a robot. Caleb even suspected that he might not be human at one point and slices his arm open to confirm it.

What details in the movie and Caleb’s characterization point to the possibility that he’s an android? For starters, Caleb is introduced to us like a blank slate and sometimes appears robotic. During his conversations with Ava, he’s the one in the box, while Ava has free space to roam her room. When asked whether he likes Mozart, Caleb says he likes “Depeche Mode,” a music group in the electronic genre. Even his reaction to cutting his arm open is unsettling.

Perhaps, if Caleb isn’t an android, other questions that can be addressed is: Why was he picked to test Ava? What does his character bring to the realm of artificial intelligence? Was he doomed from the start or did he have a chance? How is his characterization approached in the film and does it offer any insight to human interaction with artificial intelligence, such as an emphasis to the differences (or similarities) between humans and androids?

  • So I may be mistaken because I haven't seen it in a while, but isn't there a scene where Caleb cuts open his arm with a razor to see that he isn't a robot? – Sean Gadus 6 years ago
  • Yes, you’re right! That scene is meant to debunk the whole “Caleb is a robot" theory. He bleeds, thus he’s human. I guess to me the scene still seemed kind of unsettling and off in some way. Caleb’s reaction was strange with the smearing the blood and punching the mirror. Also, the way he vertically cuts his arm could actually be pretty damaging to his veins but he seemed unfazed from the pain. This might be pushing it but in the film Nathan tells Caleb that the model after Ava is going to be more advanced and groundbreaking. By more advanced, he could mean more human. Perhaps, a more humanized android would be able to mimic bleeding like a human. After reviewing the movie though, I think the topic would be more sound if it also revolved around Caleb’s characterization and what it shows about human interaction with artificial intelligence rather than only whether Caleb is a robot. – jay 6 years ago