The new sci-fi film Ex Machina is currently a critical darling on the festival circuit. It tells the story of a young, male computer programmer, who falls in love with a vulnerable and beautiful heroine named Ava. The only glitch is that Ava is a robot…. one he’s supposed to be testing.
Clearly, Ava is one alluring robot, which as some critics have noted, makes her just the latest “lady robot” to be cast in a rather formulaic … and all-too-well-worn mold.
From “female” robots Priss in Blade Runner, Lisa from Weird Science, and Samantha from Her… They’re all “female” robots, they are all vulnerable, sexy and more often than not sexualized figures. And examples of “male” robots like HAL from a Space Odyssey, Star Trek’s Data and, course, the Terminator are all brain and brawn… guts, guile and genius.
Which is all to suggest that even if you’ve never paused to compute it before it seems the robots among us are “gendered” along some rigid and traditional lines.
- Kathleen Richardson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. She’s also the author of “An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines.”
- Karl MacDorman is an associate professor of Human Computer Interaction at Indiana University.
- Bob Thompson teaches at the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
With Piya Chattopadhyay
First broadcast 24th April 2015.