November 25, 2019

Australian, Documentary, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

…occasionally unnerving, sometimes humorous, and consistently enthralling.
machine 2


Cain Noble-Davies
Year: 2019
Rating: M
Director: Justin Krook

Rodney Brooks, Nick Bostrom, Eugenia Kuyda, Tim Urban

Distributor: Icon
Released: December 12, 2019
Running Time: 84 minutes
Worth: $17.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…occasionally unnerving, sometimes humorous, and consistently enthralling.

Human technology has become incredibly advanced over the last century, and continues to speed forward at an astounding rate. By the time you’ve finished reading this review, our species will have already taken several steps towards an invention that will revolutionise the way we live.

With the growing feeling that machine evolution has outpaced human evolution, the fear of a sci-fi apocalypse becoming a reality seems to be looming closer and closer. Enter this documentary, which manages to both confirm and refute that assertion.

Through testimonial interviews and graphic visualisations of computing processes, Machine manages to cover a startling amount of ground in less than 90 minutes. Looking at industries that range from art to warfare and everything in-between, there is definite intent in treating the notion of machine learning and artificial intelligence in as even-handed a fashion as possible.

And to its credit, it is one of the most effective documentaries in recent years in regards to toeing that line, highlighting the best that technology can offer (a better understanding of ourselves through what has to be taught to machines) to the very worst (a future where A.I. try and preserve the planet… by removing the greatest danger to it: us).

In the age of Black Mirror, which this film echoes in its reiterations of how the biggest issue with A.I. isn’t the A.I. itself but how humans use it, it’s easy to discard the genuine worth of technology for the sake of electrified paranoia. It only takes one unfortunate bug to make people think that the Amish were onto something… But while things here start on an Uncanny Valley note with a look at modern android tech, it emphasises a lot of the good that it already does and could potentially do in the future.

From widening our capacity for social activity to making our roads and skies safer, even the advent of social media which gets a rare shot of optimism (while still showing the damage it’s done), humanity could accomplish great things with all of this.

But the reasons why we don’t have flying, driverless cars yet is down to not only engineering, but also psychology: if we barely understand ourselves, to the point where we still don’t know what thoughts are actually made of, how can we expect to teach machines to be just like us?

Whereas the bulk of sci-fi robot yarns treat the scenario as a zero-sum game, where either humanity or the machines win in the end, Machine proffers a more symbiotic relationship, one where our understanding of technology, its capabilities and the ethics surrounding it, says a lot about how our own species operates and what it can teach us in the process.

It’s occasionally unnerving, sometimes humorous, and consistently enthralling. Audiences who want cinema that really gives them a lot to think about should definitely check this one out.


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