The philosophical and ethical debates raised by writer-director Franklin Ritch‘s “The Artifice Girl” are just a part of what makes the film such a provocative work of science fiction. This timely, thought-provoking story about what it means to be human in a world that’s becoming more reliant on Artificial Intelligence is one of the more compelling and sophisticated films on the subject.
Through three distinct chapters, the film tells the story of a team of special agents (Sinda Nichols, David Girard) who discover a revolutionary new computer program that uses a digital child (Tatum Matthews) to bait, trap, and catch online predators. In their mission to arrest as many pedophiles as possible, they team up with troubled tech developer Gareth (Ritch) to aid their tireless work. While exploring the boundaries of what the program can do, the team must come to terms with the fact that the A.I. is rapidly advancing beyond its original purpose. This creates a series of challenges and unsettling consequences with no easy answers, like “what happens when good intentions cause real harm?”
The story does not fall into the trap of a clichéd representation of artificial intelligence. Instead, Ritch thoughtfully examines the ethical implications of using computer programs not only to entrap criminals, but human responsibilities if and when these digital beings become capable of emotions and free thought.
There is a massive amount of ambition in the script, and it’s highly disturbing and challenging. Although it has its fair share of imperfections, there are plenty of compelling topics raised. It is by design that this review sounds extremely vague, because it’s best to go into the film knowing as little as possible about the story for maximum effect.
Ritch’s film is dialogue-driven and the settings are claustrophobic, and this is not your typical sci-fi story. It raises questions about the rights and wrongs of science, human applications, and ideas that are rooted in basic morality, leaving grand ideas open to individual interpretation. In other words, “The Artifice Girl” is a cerebral work that is very demanding of its audience.
By: Louisa Moore