Very simple question, in Ex Machina did Ava pass the Turing test? Or was it just that she

was smarter than Caleb and tricked him into helping her escape?

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    I can not give a better answer than @valorum did but I think there is a second test being given, either explicitly or implicitly. If an object display's sentience then does said object have right? The 2nd seasons of Humans seems to be highlighting that question. Mar 12, 2017 at 14:15
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    How does she feel about you asking this question? ;-)
    – Cort Ammon
    Mar 12, 2017 at 17:54
  • It was one and the same for her creator, so why it isn't for you?
    – Mithoron
    Mar 12, 2017 at 23:20
  • @Mithoron, I don't follow, what are you trying to say?
    – KyloRen
    Mar 12, 2017 at 23:21
  • sigh You have two options in body of your text, in the movie second (spoilered) one meant the first for her creator - if she had done it, she passed. Is it clear now?
    – Mithoron
    Mar 12, 2017 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


This was discussed in an interview with the film's writer/director Alex Garland. In short, Ava could pass a classic Turing test (blind, with the interrogator in another room) without breaking a sweat. What Nathan is interested in is not whether she can pass an arbitrary test of language and response but whether she's actually sentient and conscious.

Q. So Domhnall’s character is administering a Turing Test…

Garland: Sort of. It’s pedantic, but it’s sort of a post-Turing Test. It’s a blind test. A Turing Test is really a test to see if you can pass the Turing Test. You can pass the Turing Test and not be sentient. What he’s saying is, this machine would pass the traditional form of the Turing Test; I want to know if I can show you it’s a machine, and you still think it’s sentient. It’s a step up.

Alex Garland On ‘Ex Machina’, Oscar Isaac, the Fate of the ‘Dredd’ Sequel

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    It's worth noting that Alan Turing devised the test precisely as a means of operationally settling the question of machine intelligence without allowing humans preconceived notions of a machine being unable to think because of insert reason here (like, pertinently, not having a body). So the writer's assertion that "you can pass the Turing Test and not be sentient" is essentially him either saying "the Turing test doesn't really work" or "you can be intelligent without being sentient". Both interesting takes, even if they miss the point of the original test somewhat. Mar 13, 2017 at 8:42
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    @StijndeWitt: as much as I'd love to discuss the merits of the Turing test exhaustively (and I really would, it's a topic dear to my heart) these comments would be too small to contain such a discussion. I'm merely pointing out what Turing's original intent was and what the writer's comments mean in that light. Mar 13, 2017 at 10:29
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    @Valorum: that's the ELIZA effect. The Turing test isn't about whether a program can fool a layman in casual conversation, but whether someone who knows they might be talking to bot can conclusively determine if it's a bot or not. Most bots fold almost immediately under scrutiny when forced to demonstrate an ability to think (not merely talk), even if they have a few tricks up their sleeve to obfuscate and misdirect. The classical form of the Turing test had two contestants (one human, and one machine) for the judge to distinguish, which raises the stakes. Mar 13, 2017 at 10:34
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    @Jasper: Alan Turing's contention was that if a program is capable of convincing dedicated interrogators with no restriction on discourse that it thinks, then it is permissible to say (as we do for anonymous humans online!) that it does think, for all practical purposes, regardless of what anyone considers "true" intelligence (which has so far turned out to be continuous shifting of goal posts). One is of course free to disagree with that definition, or contend that "sentience" is a much broader concept, but advances in natural language processing aren't immediately salient to that. Mar 13, 2017 at 14:17
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    Also note that even if one ignores the shortcomings that the Turing Test has, it's important to distinguish between its use as a detector vs. a discriminator. That is, one use is "X is intelligent if and only if it passes a Turing Test". Another use is "if X passes a Turing Test, then it is intelligent", which doesn't preclude the possibility of an intelligent agent that, despite its intelligence, can't pass a Turing Test. Mar 13, 2017 at 21:46

The definition of a Turing Test states:

"a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both."

The interrogator in this case was made aware of it being a machine, and aesthetically she is clearly a robot. In the letter of the definition it was not a Turing Test, though in the spirit of it as a "test of humanism and intelligence" Ava displayed distinctly human traits (manipulation, deceit, rage).

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    Why is this in spoiler tags? I hope you don't mind my edits to your answer.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 13, 2017 at 10:18
  • I wasn't sure if i should spoiler or not - if you hadn't seen the film, you wouldn't know that the premise of the film was that the interrogator was already aware of ava's origin :) Also, i appreciate the edits as they make the answer i'm giving much clearer - thanks :)
    – Hesperus
    Mar 13, 2017 at 10:50
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    I didn't get that from your answer, although I haven't had any interest in the films. But Spoilers are usually reserved for if the OP says they've only read X far through a series, and so you leave answers from future parts in spoilers so those that have read further can see the answers, or for very new works like Logan, etc.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 13, 2017 at 10:59
  • I appreciate your advice on this, I'm still very new to stackexchange - i actually answered a logan question recently and used spoiler tags there ( hopefully correctly that time! ) so that is useful to know. Thanks again :)
    – Hesperus
    Mar 13, 2017 at 11:01
  • I've been hiding from logan as I've not seen it yet haha, will get round to upvoting answers there soon enough :) Stick around and earn some of the easier badges while you start.
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 13, 2017 at 11:02

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