GFF Review: Machine

machine film

Photo: GFF

Part of Glasgow Film Festival 2020.

Machine, directed by Justin Krook, posits where we are in an era of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in this insightful, if flawed, documentary.

Using a vast array of talking heads such as roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, and fighter pilot, now autonomous vehicle systems professor Missy Cummings, Krook’s film interrogates ideas around the emulation of human emotions, weaponry and creativity, asking if the machine is a force for good or evil in an increasingly tech savvy planet.

There are many insights- some troubling, some hopeful, and it’s a solid enough documentary, but  the problem lies in the Sci-Fi clichés  (montages of sweeping vistas; children running through fields as a representation of future generations, ‘Blade Runner’- esque music for female sex dolls as the camera travels slowly over a perfect automaton derriere, etc) .

It’s not entirely dystopian, of course- many of the experts interviewed here believe that we’re a long way from AI being as sophisticated as it could be at this point in time, as evinced by an computer system’s failure to identify big cats on a screen- but in terms of representation, it’s all coming from a capitalist perspective.

It would be wonderful to see an alternative to AI, a pushback from independent, grassroots artists creating work freehand, for example.

Still, there is a lot to recommend this film, not least for anyone with a passing interest in how technological advances permeate through our every day living.



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