This film is interesting in its ideas and vision of the future, not as a film in it self. So I’ll focus only on the visionary content of it, that really resonates with our possible future. Something that we have already seen in earlier films like Terminator, The Matrix and the Battlestar Galactica series. Everyone interested in transhumanism, singularity or generally the forthcoming biological and technological assimilation (for good or worse) will overlook the film as a film and see more in that other context.
Before watching Transcendence I didn’t intentionally get into the plot, but knew that there were going to be some anti-singularity terrorists in it. The anti A.I. group is portrayed as the villains and terrorists hindering the development of A.I. on the path to singularity. Basically being the humans who are afraid of development and new technologies. But the outcome in the end was not biased against people who don’t wish the transcendence in the future. Although more films like this will eventually show how the status quo wants the audience to relate to this forthcoming evolution. One thing to keep in mind is that still it’s only a small minority that really reads into and knows about transhumanism, posthumanism and singularity. Even among young people who’re on the internet everyday can’t, won’t or simply aren’t interested in what all this interconnected technology will bring and make of humanity, in the future.
The main person, Will, dies and then his consciousness is uploaded by his wife Evelyn and friend Max. What happened next is the interesting part of the film – on how the singularity will be like. It’s somewhat different and yet similar to the situation when Neo gets it in Matrix and it is also different from Samuel Anders in Battlestar Galactica. The singularity in the film had a touch of the Borg and their hive mind. It’s an highly interesting view of the singularity future compressed into a film. The super A.I. computer in the film called Pinn uses all social media data to recognize people it encounters, sort of like Google glass will work when they are fully developed. Not to mention all the big data gathered from every user on the internet, specially at Google and their A.I. program.
The question of the upload Will did was successful or not arises. Or is it just like the zombie state of mind that David Chalmers so often brings to the table? That will surely be the most important discovery in our history, can it be done or not?
While the film projects visions about the future, we can let it tell us about the current state of implementation of A.I. Which there are many of today, in some way or another. Independently run computer algorithm operations are in place in areas spanning from corporate, government and other interests shifting the tides of economy and other fluid markets for the benefit of the master investment. There are already soft wavers that write articles for newspapers!
The small town in the middle of nowhere represents how humans are ignorant slaves under the influence of the controlled markets. That are controlled by humans and today by some kind of A.I. There is a time span in the film that lets the actions of the Will A.I. play its game. Are these things happening now? Like the Utah Data Center?
There is a futuristic Bonnie & Clyde touch to Will and Evelyn. And in the end of the movie she is sure that it really was him that was fully uploaded. It’s a new way for love stories that are beginning to be placed in our collective consciousness – as seen in the movie her lately. Can you see yourself in love with a A.I. or someone you’ve lost that lives on as one? Or perhaps you may want to love more than one person and split up your consciousness uploading?
In this movie the main theme is attachment, the one of love and the flesh. In what I already wrote about (Blind religion of transhumanism – Ignoring consciousness & relativity), it doesn’t matter if you live 8, 80 or 8000 years if you cannot find peace and compassion in you life. The one and biggest motivation among transhumanist and singularity enthusiasts is just that – the fear of the nature of impermanance. Also if we (for the fun) take a perspective from the Book of Revelation and the Antichrist we see how the Will A.I. cures and gives hope for the weak, in exchange of them being hived into his mind control – sort of like the Borg collective from Star Trek.
The film has its most interesting aspect in how the system can be brought down, in a somewhat updated internet-scifi topic. Also how sensitive our system is when the most crucial power systems, like the nuclear power plants, are connected to the internet or other online grids. Terminator, atrix and Battlestar Galactica are all one of many similar sci-fi themes upon that when humans are surpassed by their own creation. Or are we on the path of integrating with our creation in the unavoidable destination for singularity?