I don't ask why she did, what she did like the other questions. I also don't want to touch the philosophical discussion what she realy is, AI, self aware, sentient, ...

I "just" concentrate on the question if she has feelings.

I define "have feelings" as that she perfectly shows having feelings and we can not tell the difference between simulation or real feelings so for all purpose she acts as if she has feelings.

This definition is not meant as made up by me. I tried to boild down what I catched up about such definitions. So feel free to correct or advance the definition.

In the movie we are shown that AVA develops feelings for Caleb and vice versa.

At least on the first look. In fact the expression of any feelings from AVA is quite poor. The smiles most of the time, she looked concerned when Caleb told her about his parents and she looked and spoke serious when warning Caleb of Nathan during the power outages. Compared with the earlier model we saw in the videos this is quite poor. The earlier model becomes angry and desperate, screams "Let me out" and attacks the glass wall breaking her own arms, despite it/she must have known about the futility. This to me is a much better display of "true" feelings, than everything AVA (the advanced model) does. She always acted in a very controlled way. She tells Nathan she hates him but she didn't become or act angry. She told Caleb she wan't so be with him and she missed him, but shows no passion. When Caleb told her about her future fate according to Nathans plans she does not display any sign of fear. Even when killing Nathan she does not display something like hate. In the end we learn that even the poor display of feelings for Caleb were not "true" but just manipulation. So by the above given definition does she have feelings? One could argue that she shows having feelings (far away from perfectly) and we cannot tell the difference (with much good will) up to the point where she left Caleb. At that point we know it was a simulation therefore failing the "can't tell the difference" rule.

So, by this (or other rules) does she have any feelings?


I try to elaborate what I mean with "have feelings".

First, I'am aware that it is only semi determinable.

Imagine a man shows love for a women. The woman falls in love, too. They marry. Up to this point, by observation, it is highly probable to us that the man has true feelings for the woman. Shortly after, he cold blooded kills her without hesitation to inherit her money (and we observe that). Now we would completely agree that the feelings weren't true, but only pretended. When the man goes to jail and is sad, we would again think that this are his true feelings, until he shows us that he only pretends to be sad.

Another example:

The married terminator in the Sarah Connor Chronicles. A terminator was able to marry a human woman. He seems to be completely able to show feelings for her and behaves indistinguishable to a man with true feelings. We would say he really has developed feelings. But then he is called to his mission. Without any hesitation he (unnecessarily) kills his wife without hesitation and fullfils his mission without any regret to completely loose his former life. It is clear that all the feelings where just simulated and not real. Until he does not show us other feelings (of course we will be sceptical now), we would not say that he has developed true feelings.

So we come to Ava. She does not show much feelings at all. She doesn't become angry, shows no fear, no desperation, no desire, ... From what she says we can get the impression she developed feelings for Caleb. But in the end we know that thoose feelings where all pretended/simulated.

I also do not see where she shows feelings for other machines. She never asks if there where other machines. She does not protect the other machine, despite she helped her escape. She did not become angry when nathan damaged the other one and she also made not any try to help or repair her. So where did she show feelings for other machines?

  • 1
    Contempt, and selective empathy – Valorum Jan 16 '17 at 9:16
  • I dont't think she shows contempt. She just does not show any respect or regard or esteem (what's the right word for the opposite?) I think the lack of showing one feeling is not automatically a display of the opposite. And even when she smiles when she was free (what I think is her default face expression), it wasn't an evil grin. She just don't care about the murder she did and about Caleb who she doomed to starve. She does not express any feeling about it. So you could argue she displays to be cold-blodded. But this also is more a lack or absence of feeling than in itself a feeling. – Hothie Jan 16 '17 at 9:34
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    Define circularly much? Define having feelings in way that allows us to tell if a person has feelings, or not. Then we can apply that measure to a robot. – Seeds Jan 16 '17 at 21:00
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    The dupe indicates that she feels empathy (towards other machines). Empathy is a feeling, hence she has feelings. – Valorum Jan 17 '17 at 20:09
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    I think the entire point of an AI machine is that we will never be able to tell whether they truly have feelings, or are just so good at emulating them. – Möoz Jan 17 '17 at 21:00

AVA once mentions to Caleb, that she would like to go to a busy intersection to watch people, if she ever has the chance to leave. The movie ends with AVA watching a busy junction.

To me, this behaviour is motivated not by reason and logic, but curiosity, which according to Wikipedia "... as a behavior and emotion is attributed over millennia as the driving force behind not only human development, but developments in science, language, and industry."

To elaborate: With Nathan dead and Caleb trapped, there is no one AVA needs to impress or manipulate. By itself, watching people might also be motivated by self-preservetion, i.e. learning how to improve her disguise. But this could be better achieved in a less conspicious manner than standing around where everybody else is moving.

All other instances where AVA or one of her predecessors show an emotion may be dictated by the programmed task: To behave like a human. Even the display of rage that resulted in the damaged glass pane of AVAs compound can be explained as a completely emotionless attempt to demonstrate human feelings. But when AVA goes to the busy intersection, she does it for no one but herself.

  • Gathering information (observing a busy junction) on entities you're supposed to hide among is logical. What she did at the end was very practical. – Petersaber Apr 10 '18 at 14:48
  • @Petersaber: The end (gathering information) is logical, the means (standing around at a busy intersection) less so. As I wrote, there are less conspicious ways to watch people. E.g. sitting at a bus stop, pretending to read a newspaper, or even doing nothing but staring around while seemingly waiting. – straycat Apr 10 '18 at 20:06
  • she couldn't have known that yet. After all, she only started observing and gathering information. – Petersaber Apr 11 '18 at 7:01
  • I think the ending is intentionally ambiguous. She/it could still be "playing chess", realizing that hiding forever wasn't really an option (or maybe even sustainable if she/it needed upkeep) and that she/it would have to infiltrate society sooner or later. Her/its disposition at the end towards society could be the same disposition as when playing Caleb. – Tormod Jul 31 '18 at 4:52

in the original script, at the end of the movie, they cut to Avas POV as she walks past the trapped Caleb and the audience gets to see what she sees' which is just a completely alien set of light pulses and code, with no sound.

they cut that out to leave it more of a mystery if she felt sorry for Caleb or really was thinking etc. but the original script was more in line with her just being a heartless toaster.

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    Hello and welcome to SFF! This could be improved if you add evidence to what the original script actually was. I'm also not entirely sure how this answers if AVA had feelings or not. Could you edit to clarify? – TheLethalCarrot Apr 10 '18 at 14:41

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