I finished with Ex Machina because it takes that two-way flow even further than The Stepford Wives and integrates the artificial body and mind concerns of Ghost in the Shell as well as the importance of individual choice in qualifying a being as human implied in Wall-E. It deals pretty comprehensively with the issues surrounding my question that I’ve seen addressed in film.
Ex Machina has a very small set of characters that we get to know quite well, and everyone we get to know in Nathan’s house occupies an interesting, complicated place on this human-robot or human-object spectrum. First, there’s Caleb, the naïve young programmer who wins a trip to visit his company’s CEO for a week. He seems to be shy and smart, not someone who’s faced many moral quandaries in his life. He’s at first guarded with Nathan but soon opens up, and then quickly closes off again when he starts getting to know Eva. What begins as scientific curiosity soon loses out to sympathy for who he sees as a fellow person being unjustly held prisoner. He likes Eva (though he feels conflicted about his attraction to her) and hatches a plan to deceive Nathan and help her escape. Unfortunately for Caleb, Eva’s feelings don’t seem to be reciprocal and she leaves him to die.