The movie Transcendence might seem a little far fetched but it isn’t as impossible as you may think, which leaves us with some important question to answer.
The film Transcendence, set to release April 18th, paints a picture of a technological society that is nearing something called the singularity. The singularity is a point where computers ability to process information and learn will surpass that of humans, an even that has been debated for years by experts in many fields. The movie explores one possibility of the usefulness of such an event; the uploading of a human mind into a computer.
It might sound crazy to think of humans ever existing solely between impulses along electrical systems, but anyone with a basic knowledge of anatomy would admit that is exactly what we are right now. Computers are always getting faster, for reference just think about how much faster your phone is than ones only a few years old, so it isn’t impossible to imagine a time when microchips catch up to neurons.
As I said the singularity has been argued by countless people in the fields of not only technology but also philosophy. It brings into stark reality the necessity of answering the question “What is a human?” It might seem a silly question now, but as humans become more integrated with technology there will be a point when the answer is not so clear.
Right now you are reading my thoughts that have been transmitted miles over electric cables, if you comment I would be able to comment back forming a discussion. We could direct chat or even video conference. All of these are hallmarks of human interaction, but there is something not quite “real” about them. If a being were able to do these same things, with its own ideas, how would we differentiate it from a human?
Sure it’s a movie so it will probably have to include some action sequences; the filmmakers know what makes money. However it is exploring a scenario that is not only possible but, depending on whom you ask, probable. Even if it ends up leaning too much into the silver screen stereotypes, at its heart Transcendence looks to ask the serious questions about what it means to be human and how technology can change that definition.
If you want a look at a movie that deals with some similar themes, but came out a few years back, check out Surrogate, Social Media, and Self Worth.