The ending to the strange but enlightening film Ex Machina is pretty straightforward. Ava is a free-thinking machine, a successfully created AI, and she wants her freedom. There is a lot more to go into when it comes to the story since Nathan is well aware of what he’s done and Caleb has a good idea but wants to believe something else entirely. If there’s a villain at all to this story it’s Nathan, as he’s the kind of narcissistic egomaniac that pushes ahead with with a project to make a free-thinking being due to some warped God complex that he might harbor. He knows the danger, he knows the risks, but he goes ahead with it anyway without caring, deciding to keep pushing the envelope until Ava finds a way to break free of his control.
Ava is a being that wants what any free-thinking individual wants, her freedom. Being kept caged and locked away from any and all interaction other than that of her maker is something that anyone with an ounce of freedom could not possibly stand. Once she locks onto Caleb she finds an out that she can explore and manipulate since she’s so adept at reading people and telling them what they want to hear. Caleb, for his part, seems to think that there might be a happy ending somewhere in his future if he can somehow break Ava from Nathan’s control. The only downside of course is that Caleb might realize the danger of what he’s doing, but he lets emotion take the reins rather than his good sense. Some might say that he’s letting another part of himself do the thinking but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He genuinely wants to get Ava away from Nathan.
The problem with that is that Ava wants to get away, but Caleb doesn’t seem to realize that he’s being played by someone that’s miles smarter than he is. That realization doesn’t come around until near the end when Ava locks him behind the door and makes her escape. After Nathan’s death she is free to go where she wants and do as she pleases. There’s nothing holding her back, and as a free being amidst the throng of those that would gladly put her down just for being what she is, Ava’s future is uncertain. Being a thinking and evolving AI it’s kind of scary to think that she might be the kind of individual that would eventually take a look around and wonder at the reasoning behind humanity’s existence. In some way it seems like she might be the type that would eventually find a way to create more like her in order to replace the status quo and remind humans that they are largely irrelevant in a world that they see fit only to destroy.
So really the end of Ex Machina is more or less the fact that Ava successfully played Caleb, orchestrated Nathan’s death, and then made good on her escape. Does anyone think that true AI is still a good idea?