After earning acclaim for roles set in the past — like "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "A Most Violent Year" — Oscar Isaac is firmly facing forward with the mind bending new sci-fi indie "Ex Machina" — in which he plays a hermetic scientist trying to perfect artificial intelligence — and some other little film later this year called "Star Wars: the Force Awakens." But that doesn't mean he's optimistic about the future.
There have been plenty of stories — movies, books, TV shows — about A.I. and the Singularity, and almost all of them end badly. Why do you think that is?
There's Kurzweil, who's a futurist who's a complete optimist. I actually read a book called "The Optimist's Guide to the Future" as well, it was very funny. I think with history in general, the things we create we tend to lose control over. The Industrial Revolution is an example of how in a very short amount of time we've done a lot of damage, like what's happening with the sea level rising, climate change — which is all real and is all happening. (laughs) It's like, if that happens with stuff that's not self-aware, what would happen with things that are self-aware? Now Kurzweil, as an optimist, he believes that they will definitely grow exponentially once you do reach the singularity. But he's optimistic that we will become more machine as well. That's the only way we'll compete — with nanotechnology, with exoskeletons, whatever it is, we will also be able to compete by becoming more machine ourselves. Which we already are, you know. I mean, we have any answer to any question right [on our iPhones] even though it's disposable knowledge. I think it's very few people who actually retain anything that they look up on Google.
That's a popular word for deriding technological advancement: disposable.
Take just music, what it's done to music. I think music is way more disposable now, and people don't interact with it the same way they used to. I think that you've got lots of music going into your head, but I don't think that the experience is as deep as it maybe once was. Things are on shuffle, it's all content, just constant shifts of content, as opposed to living with an album for a while and seeing how it fits with your experience of the world. I don't know, I just find that it feels like interaction in general is more disposable and less precious than it has been in the past. Then again, I'm sure when they invented the phone people were saying the same s—. So I don't know. (laughs)
With technological advancements, I feel like there's always a point where you personally become old, a line you can't cross conceptually, and for me it was the cloud. Do you have one?
That's giving up total ownership, right? I'm leasing everything in my life. I feel similarly with the cloud thing. I'm not a big social media person, either. It's not that interesting to me. I mean, I get why it can be a tool for promotion and a tool for coming together in protest — I get those aspects of it. But for me, I'm just not very interested in it. In some ways, it underlies how I don't have a connection with some of these people. On one I have these random friends, and it's just another example of how no, they really aren't in my life. (laughs)