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Fembots in Ex Machina and Blade Runner

Rachael of BLADE RUNNER, Ava of EX MACHINA, could these robots pass as people? Fandor’s Keyframe, a free daily digital magazine, and director and editor Allison de Fren, produced a Video Essay, “The Human Machine in EX MACHINA,” in honor of Women’s History Month which tests the realness of these fembots via three tests: the Turing Test in EX MACHINA, the fictional Voight-Kampf test in BLADE RUNNER, and the Bechdel Test in both films. The results are mixed.

The Turing Test was named after the British computer scientist Alan Turing, the subject of the Sloan-supported film THE IMITATION GAME, who helped break the Enigma Code and win World War II. The Turing Test, developed in 1950, is an artificial intelligence test where a human and a computer engage in a dialogue, and the human guesses if it is a person or computer with whom he is conversing. The ultimate test of artificial intelligence is if a computer can pass as a human.

The Voight-Kampff machine is a fictional technology, a version of a Turing Test, from BLADE RUNNER, which measures the responses of the sympathetic nervous system such as heart rate and pupil dilation, which only humans have.

The Bechdel Test is named after cartoonist Alison Bechdel and measures gender equality in a film. It asks if a film has two women who each have been given a name, if they talk to each other, and if their conversation is about something other than a man.

The Video Essay, which tests each film using these measures, can be viewed below:

The Museum of the Moving Image is screening BLADE RUNNER on Monday, May 16 with screenwriter Hampton Fancher present as part of an event co-presented by Esopus magazine.