Alex Garland’s upcoming artificial intelligence sci-fi thriller Ex Machina has made another unique, eerie marketing move by bringing a small dose of AI to potential viewers IRL. First it was a cute girl seducing unsuspecting journos on Tinder at SXSW. Now another attractive lady, the film’s central AI character, Ava, is hoping to become your personal assistant.
The company behind the film, A24, has teamed with x.ai, maker of an AI-powered “personal assistant” service, to bring Ava to life in your inbox. X.ai’s personal assistant lets you use email to schedule meetings simply by cc’ing firstname.lastname@example.org. But from now until April 30, you can cc the film’s main robot character, Ava, at email@example.com, and she’ll handle scheduling for your next meeting. She’s even updated her LinkedIn page to reflect her new job.
In an email, Brian Coulombe at x.ai says the film’s U.S. studio, A24, got in touch last fall. The two companies talked about the parallels between the concept in the film–showing Ava as an AI and testing how humanlike the interactions with and feelings for her become–and x.ai’s scheduling platform. “We’re in the business of scheduling meetings, but we place an enormous amount of effort on humanizing Amy,” says Coulombe. “So, how could Ava be tested in the real world? We decided to bring her to life and find out. How will users treat her? We shall see!”
In the words of Oscar Isaac’s character Nathan, “The challenge is to show you that she’s a robot and then see if you still feel she has consciousness.”
This campaign puts that challenge in the hands of viewers.
Y’know, just without the whole creepy glass-wall basement.