“Dr. Will Caster: For one hundred and thirty thousand years, our capacity to reason has remained unchanged. The combined intellect of the neuroscientists, mathematicians and engineers pales in comparison to the most basic A.I. Once online, a sentient machine will quickly overcome the limits of biology; in a short time, its analytic power will become greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world. Some scientists refer to this as the Singularity. I call it Transcendence.”
Transcendence is not your average man-against-the-machine movie. It goes beyond that delving more into areas of grey than actual black and white. More on the lines of what it means to be a man, what it means to be a machine and what it means to be both. The points below are what make Transcendence different from the other machines-on a quest to achieve world domination-movies:
1. Man does not make machines. He is the machine.
Or more accurately man is now computer intelligence combined with a human consciousness. Other movies depicting the inevitable war between humans and machines show human creating machines to aid them in the futuristic course of life and controlling them at first because they haven’t given them a specific form of intelligence, just a limited one that can be controlled. Most robotic technology movies show us that human beings ultimately lose control to machines because machine’s superior intelligence is superficial and lacking in humanity. But what happens when man himself becomes the machine? What happens when you imbibe a machine with an actual human consciousness? Would that make it more human or more machine? It is a viewpoint depicted beautifully in Transcendence.
2. Man defeats death. The uploaded avatar with human intelligence becomes a loose depiction of God
“Miserable Student: So you’re trying to create a god? Your own god?
Dr. Will Caster: That’s a very good question. Um, isn’t that what man has always tried to do?”
What is the true depiction of God? The-All-Seeing-Eye. Someone capable of complete control, bestowed with supreme knowledge because he is the creator of the universe. That being said a God can create life and is an entity that cannot be destroyed. He is not affected by diseases or the happenings of the world because while creating it, he is not really of this realm. And since he created all beings, he is connected to all of them and all of us have a piece of him in us. A God also controls the destiny of human beings. A God is symbolic of goodness not evil.
It is said that God created man in his likeness. In a weird twist of events, what Transcendence achieves is human’s creating God in their likeness. Will achieves supreme knowledge of the universe when his consciousness gets uploaded on the internet. He surpasses death when his consciousness survives his death. He succeeds in creating life when he creates his physical likeness to survive him. He derives cures for all diseases existing in the universe, making human’s immune to them. By using the earth’s natural resources he makes the earth cure itself, bringing pollution to an end. All the human beings healed by Will were connected to him. Will could control them if he chose to but he only used them for peace never war, highlighting his goodness. If Will had been allowed to continue, in an ironic way he would have made all human beings Gods living in a utopian society, with our consciousnesses intact.
3. Bye Bye physical bot form. The commonly depicted mechanical robot is replaced by a virtual manifestation of the actual being with a human consciousness embedded in codes.
Which makes the new and improved Will super awesome. Super scary but super awesome as well.
4. The uploaded avatar with a human consciousness actually makes things better not worse. Pinky promise
“Will: These people are suffering, Evelyn. They have no hope, and I’m able to fix them. But some people don’t understand. IT”s time for everybody to see.”
So let us list the things that Will actually does with his new intelligence and human consciousness:
- He attains supreme knowledge and is willing to share what he knows but people are simply not ready to understand the new and improved Will
- He heals people and finds the cure to virtually every existing disease
- He finds a way to defeat death via. Transcendence
- He cures the earth using the earths own natural resources. Read-he saves us from our own destruction
- He finds a way to create life
And what do we do? Kill him. Well done.
5. The uploaded avatar seeks to create not annihilate. It will reach the extent of being able to create its own physical manifestation without the help of humans
“Will: You’re surprised to see me, Joseph?
Joseph: Hmmm, that depends. Can you prove that you are self-aware?
Will: Well that’s an interesting question. Can you prove to me that you are?”
As humans beings we are limited in being able to handle some technological feats without the help of machines. However giving an avatar a single uploaded human consciousness enabled the new Will to take matter into his own hands because he was not limited by human physicality. Both the thought of creation and the actual ability to create could be accomplished by the same entity. The new Will achieved a sense of total self sufficiency. Throughout the movie Will’s ulterior motive was never world domination but merely understanding it which he even expressed when he was human.
“Dr. Will Caster: My lovely wife wants to change the world. I’ll settle for understanding it first.”
He manages to achieve both their wishes.
6. The uploaded avatar has soul. In a weird twist of fate it may seem more human than humans
“Will: It doesn’t make sense – they’re afraid of technology because of it’s threat to humanity, but they’re wiling to take a life, so… clearly they’re not big on logic, but there’s no shortage of irony.”
Everyone is out to get the avatar in the movie not the other way around. Once the new Will decides he is safe he seeks to make the world better. Human’s are the ones bringing about the war while he is trying to uphold the peace. Human beings supposed to be the peaceful and compassionate ones, are the ones brandishing guns and bombs in the movie to bring out the destruction of Will and everything he has created which could actually save them. And a machine which is supposed to be cold and calculating is laying down arms, making peaceful negotiations and willing people to understand that its motives are not evil. Ultimately it sacrifices itself to death because it is living in a world that does not understand or accept it. Human’s are depicted as thinking and acting like machines, while the machine is depicted as being inherently human. Kind of makes you want to rethink the labels of human and machine.
7. Humans are the destroyers. Not the machines.
“…they will fear things they don’t understand…”
“Max: The internet was supposed to make the world a smaller place, but it actually feels smaller without it.”
Will Caster reportedly says in the film that people will always seek to destroy what they cannot understand. People are afraid of the unfamiliar. People are afraid of losing control. And people although dependant on technology are terrified of technology controlling us. Which is weird because in the world we live in, technology more than aiding us does control us. We are more disconnected from reality than ever. Why are we then afraid of something that has already happened to us? Ever suspicious of Will’s motives, the resistance force and even Will’s wife Evelyn seek to destroy him before realizing that whatever he did in the end- saving the world and creating his physical form- he did because it was what his wife wanted. Which meant that all along, despite displaying computer intelligent traits, his true motives were humanistically feeling-inspired, which Evelyn realizes at the end and apologises for as she dies with him.
8. Technology may achieve Transcendence. But will we?
“Evelyn: It is you.
Will: It always was.
Evelyn: I’m sorry I didn’t believe.”
The bottom-line of this film is that we aren’t ready for Transcendence. That we ideally dream of it, we may even one day build it, but when we actually are on the brink of achieving it we may reject it because we are afraid of the consequences and sense of power that comes along with it. We may have the chance to save our environment, to cure diseases indefinitely and to achieve immortality. Honestly our acceptance of such a feat I think depends on whose hands such power lies in. In Will’s it seemed that he could truly have made the world a better place to live in because the computer intelligence was driven by Will’s personality traits which was a loving, warm, intelligent and compassionate human being.
“Max Waters: We can’t programme a machine to be self-aware because we have no idea how our own consciousness works”
Such power in the wrong hands could be disastrous because the wrong people with ill intended consciousnesses uploaded could actually become a viral phenomenon intending to control and manipulate human’s to achieve their own ends (what the resistance and Evelyn were afraid that Will had become).
But what is more dangerous is that such knowledge may be discovered and hidden from us for fear that such knowledge becoming public would not allow certain people to achieve their own selfish agendas. For e.g. Finding a cure to cancer could close down chemotherapy drug sale businesses which the movie The Cure (2014) highlights. It’s the tip of the iceberg. The consequences of such power depend on the wielder. A person vying to play God may actually be the devil in disguise. And voe to us then. Far from discovering immortality, we may just discover hell.
The ending of Transcendence suggests that even though Transcendence was destroyed the first time around, it actually managed to survive via nano particles in Will’s Faraday Cage, which Will designed when he was alive so that he and his wife could have their own private sanctuary-keeping them disconnected from technology when they needed to be. Meaning that Transcendence will be around to be put to use when the world is ready for it.
For those who haven’t seen it already, Transcendence is Depp-inately worth the watch!
Transcendence Movie Poster 1 (http://media.aintitcool.com/media/uploads/2014/nordling/transceposter.jpg)
Transcendence Movie Poster 2 (http://calumchace.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/transcendence-new-intelligence.jpg)