Cursed

The new flick “Ex Machina” is aptly titled, as it is most likely derived from the term ‘deus ex machina”, which is Latin for “god from the machine”.  This comes from ancient Greek tragedy, which used machines to portray gods.

Spoiler alert (see the movie first before you read this if you don’t want to know the ending).

The film centers on Nathan, a 30-something programming genius who himself is playing God by  developing an android with superior artificial intelligence in his extremely remote home and laboratories. He brings in Caleb, a younger coder for his Google-like company, to perform a Turing test on the Ava, the female ‘droid. (A Turing test determines how human the artificial intelligence actually is.)

As the movie progresses we find that Nathan is something of a pervert.  It is revealed that he has created several sexually aware and attractive female robots, When he is done with them, he hangs ther remains in closet and creates new ones.

None of this is known to Caleb at the beginning, and when he discovers how much of a liar Nathan is, he seeks to stop the experiments and free Ava. The beautiful ‘droid is involved in the escape plot.

In the end, however, it is Ava who is duplicitous and scheming. She turns the tables on both Nathan and Caleb. She kills Nathan in bloody fashion and imprisons Caleb in the lab. Then, after making herself appear as human as possible through the use of another ‘droids skin, she flees in the helicopter meant for Caleb’s departure.

The machine Ava has truly become a god in human form. The Scriptures do say that humans are created in God’s image. Furthermore, the psalmist wrote,”You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6). I suppose Ava is a god granddaughter.

The approach of AI in our world obviously is making certain people nervous. Why else do we have movies of this kind, and there have been several. The basic plot line is that the machine takes over.

What “Ex Machina” reminds me of the most is a real trouble: kids who are seeking to take over from their parents. I am personally facing this crisis at the moment.

I have a teenager who recently sent me a communication in which he called me names, threatened me physically, and also insulted his mother in  graphic terms. He has sent subsequent communications demanding a response, all with f-bombs and further insults.

It turns out he has been given some bad news about his future brought about by his previous hostile behavior. Obviously, he didn’t like the news.

With few resources and no money for therapy, I have been googling trying to find answers. The best method I have found so far is from Psychology Today. At the moment  I am giving him some space, hoping he cools down,

It is easy blame myself for his attitude, given that I am separated from his mother. In my mind I see this as a consequence of our bad marriage and my absence. I am sure some of it is.

Yet, I recall in my googling seeing some advice that told me that not to blame yourself for the child’s attitude when going through a divorce. It’s easier said than done.

As I write this I just received an Email which asked me,”What makes you think I owe you any respect?” That is a good question. I have to insist upon that as a father. If I don’t who knows what kind of adult they will become.

I told my child that I do not require his respect in his heart, but I do expect respectful behavior. They seem to be having trouble parsing the difference.

King David had his own rebellious child, a young man named Absalom. This son of the king endured having his own sister raped by a half brother. He kept his peace, biding his time. Then he killed Amnon, the perpetrator.

David did not handle the situation very well. He banished his son. Then he allowed him back, but wouldn’t see him. This all went on for years.

Eventually, Absalom created a full scale rebellion against his father’s kingdom. David didn’t stand by while the war erupted though. He arranged to flee with remnants of his army and he arranged and relied on help.

Yet, he saw the gravity of his situation and that his fate was in the hand of God. The Bible reveals a character named Shimei who cursed and insulted David on his way out of town.

He called David a murderer and a scoundrel. He interpreted events as God’s revenge for the the bloody fight he had had with the previous king, Saul. (Shimei was a relative of Saul.)

What could David say? Both the insults and the events were indeed true.

An ally of David suggested that the king allow him to go over and cut off Shimei’s head. David’s reply was “who asked your opinion?” and “if the Lord had told him to curse me, who are you to stop him?

“My own son is trying to kill me. Doesn’t this relative of Saulhave even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged  and will bless me because of these curses today.” (II Samuel  16:10-13)

I find myself today in the same position as David. I am being insulted and threatened by my own child. Yet, some of it I brought on myself. God knows this.

God also knows the truth about the events that led to where we are today. Perhaps like David he will bless me for the curses.

. It may be that my own creation, my child, is seeking to knife me as Ava did Nathan. Like David I need to put my life in God’s hands. I also need to gather my own supporters for help.

My real hope is that somehow in all of this is that I can get my child through to adulthood and  that he will eventually become a reasonable adult.

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