Jessica Ruzek is a writer and teaching assistant at University of King’s College. She obtained her Master of Arts in English from the University of Lethbridge in 2014. Her thesis interrogated representations of humanity in contemporary post-apocalyptic literatures that anticipate posthuman futures. She is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
"Through the Looking Glass:' Mastery and Personhood in Ex Machina"
Situating the characters in a Hegelian network of master/slave relationships, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina complicates notions of artificial intelligence subjectivity by demonstrating the rigidity of anthropocentrism in humans and AI alike. The modeling of the AI based on human likeness and behaviour immortalizes the human within the AI, revealing that the moral dread at the heart of AI is due, in part, to their similarity to humans. As the master and slave are inversions of each other—eventually succeeding in annihilating the other in an assertion of one’s subjectivity—the invocation of Hegel’s parable in Ex Machina reveals that humanity’s technological progeny may inevitably assume the master/slave dynamic that defines humanity. However, rather than employing this dialectic to sustain the apprehension surrounding AI, the master/slave parable in Ex Machina demonstrates the need for dynamic cartographies with which to regard AI personhood and to explore alternative configurations of humanity’ relationship to their technological successors.