[Movie] Transcendence

IMdb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2209764/

***Spoilers ahead***

In the not too distant future, where advances in machine intelligence is threatening to approach Singularity, a Sarah Connor-like leader emerges and forms a rebel group in an attempt to stop it from happening.

By the way, Singularity is a real concept in AI that is loosely defined as the point in human evolution where machine intelligence exceeds that of human intelligence. Some has even predicted the exact year in which it will happen – 2045. The prevailing notion in science is that Singularity can be a threat to humanity alongside global warming and asteroid impact, as no one can predict what will happen when machines become capable of real intelligence.

This is not a new concept in film – the moment in Terminator when SkyNet “wakes up” can be defined as Singularity. The slight difference in this movie is that the source of this intelligence originates from a human and is transferred to machine – hence transcending the human body. This is unlike Terminator where the machine spontaneously achieves awareness by itself.

In essence Transcendence is exploring 2 concepts – transferrence of ‘self’ or consciousness, and that of Singularity. The first is a subject matter that has deep philosophical roots and which has been explored in depth in both theology as well as science. There are very deep questions such as what gets transferred – assuming it is possible at all – what is consciousness, in fact what is the concept of self. Personally I find this to be a fascinating subject matter and was hoping that this movie will give some insightful treatment into this. Sadly, none of these gets explored in detail in this movie. Instead what we get is a dramatization that is standard hollywood treatment – fancyful effects, stuff getting blown up, final showdown between man and machine, in which of course man wins.

Also I’m not sure how many people understood the concept of nano dust. Supposedly with advances in miniaturization, we will eventually be able to reduce and control micro machines as small as a dust particle. Extrapolate this in hollywood land and you get nano dust working in concert to become an invisible hand that comes alive. Build structures out of thin air? Check. Multiply and spread via the atmostphere? No problem. Resurrect people from the dead? Done. It seems nothing is impossible – the magical medical pod in Elysium is child’s play compared to this.

The ultimate solution to end this ultra intelligent machine/being is franking a tat disappointing. Surely the smartest machine would have figured out the possible attack vectors and make defences against it. Well, I guess that wouldn’t fit into a Hollywood ending.

Overall rating: 3/5


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