Transcendence; the film

I have gotten into the habit of watching a new film every Saturday in an effort to get into touch with what films have recently been released. Now, I am not a huge movie fan, but every once in a while I enjoy a good film. Since the advertisements for “Transcendence” came out a while ago I was intrigued because of the scientific basis of the film. The film stars Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, and Rebecca Hall with supporting actors Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, and Cillian Murphy.

Dr. Will Caster is shot by an anarchist group and has weeks to live because of radiation poisoning from the bullet that shot him. In an effort to save her husband, Dr. Evelyn Caster uploads his thoughts into an artificial intelligence unit that the Casters created. Evelyn is blinded by the AI unit for she thinks it really is her husband, and this causes a rift between Max (Bettany) and Evelyn. In short, Will’s AI part gets intertwined with every computer in the world and when Evelyn and him relocate to the desert, they establish their own labs. What Evelyn had no knowledge of was Will’s hope to control humankind by using nanotechnology to improve their physical capabilities and mental faculties.

This movie had an interesting perspective on the world of AI and whether it is a person or a computer that just wants to get more powerful. The question that kept on popping up throughout the film was what percentage of the AI unit was Will, given that it was his image and mind that gave rise to it?

The film was ok, in that it had some cool special effects, but the technology that it was based on was a little far fetched. The film had a gap of two years where I guess Will’s mind expanded its technology and whatnot to make the acceptable leaps in technological advancement it needed, and this was a bit confusing. Moreover, supposedly these nanoparticles could fission and copy wherever they were. Isn’t this kind of defying the law of conservation of mass? How do you duplicate without taking mass away from something else? This was confusing!

I guess the film was thought-provoking thematically, but that’s really all it was. There should be some concern over AI, but I’m not too sure that we have reached a point scientifically where this is a problem. Perhaps some day, but not today. In the meanwhile, this was an ok movie to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, and unfortunately, that’s all it was.

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