Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Movie Review: Transcendence

Transcendence is a modern retelling of a couple of very familiar stories in science fiction. The story of a guy who gets uploaded to a computer and the story of a super computer that becomes a threat to mankind.

At least as far back as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits you've seen stories of a house setup with a computer to run things and the house falls in love with the person who lives there and becomes homicidal. Isaac Asimov and others have had computers taking control of the world, often being designed for just that purpose. Much of the work of Robert J Sawyer has involved humans being transferred into computers with mixed results.

In Transcendence, an AI researcher is poisoned by Luddite terrorists. To save him, his wife has him copied into a powerful computer that they'd been developing. Immediately the debate begins about whether the mind in the computer is him or not. Is the computer pretending to be him, is it him with the humanity stripped away, or is it him, but with the changes that come with being smarter and more powerful? They generate some quick money in the stock market, buy up a nearly dead town in the desert, and turn it into a server farm with independent power supply. With the resources at his command he develops advanced nanotech that feeds on pollution and can heal almost all injuries. Honestly, the only real problem here is that he's also networking those he heals into a sort of hive mind. And he's deploying the nanotech worldwide. He can heal everyone. Save crops. End pollution. It's hard to figure out what the downside is. Oh, yeah, we're not sure how much of the networked people is really them and how much is the computer.

Oh, and the guy who gets uploaded is named Will Caster. I laughed.

Not sure if I'll buy this one. I'm on the fence about it.

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