I’m still working my way through the collection edited by James McGrath, “Religion and Science-Fiction” (Wipf & Stock, 2011. Earlier post HERE). It’s striking how many movies are opening up the question of what it is to be human — I’m thinking in this past year of Transcendence and Lucy and Her, and now of the coming British film Ex Machina.
In previous years there have been other great entries in this exploration, including I, Robot (based on one of Asimov’s volumes), and of course we can’t miss Star Trek the Next Generation’s Data. If we subscribe to Phyllis Tickle’s axiom, then every five hundred years or so the most fundamental questions are explored again, and given the prominence of worry in the media lately as to the dangers of AI, it’s cool that we have movies that help us seriously address these issues.
It all began with Alan Turing in some ways — as seen in The Imitation Game (a great film I recommend!). The Turing Test is the subject of Ex Machina.
McGrath’s own chapter in the Wipf & Stock book happens to be, “Robots, Rights and Religion.” Would the church accept such beings into its membership? Would we allow them sacraments? Would they take faith seriously? Could androids learn to pray? What would it mean to create non-human beings “in our image?” Is that a contradiction in terms? Fascinating questions to explore. I confess I have gradually been forming a personality in my mind that would appear in Volume II of Dominion. I don’t have a name or gender for the character yet, but it would help me push some of the questions more personally, as well as offering a great foil in the ongoing plot.