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Transcendence (2014)

Transcendence (2014)

Time for a sci-fi movie on the potential dangers of AI? It's about time!

The movie is about four years old at this point too, but growing all the more relevant with each year. It's the story of a scientist preaching the wonders of AI, when one day he's shot by an activist, poisoned, and left with but a few weeks left to live.

He has a wife - a scientist too, and during that short time she becomes intent on saving him in the only possible way: replicating his brain in digital form, like they've just recently managed with a monkey. The first AI with self-awareness: based on an animal brain. The second: on a human.

It seems like she fails at first. Time is short and the journey is massive, but then... he appears. He answers her questions, first via writing then via speech. He replicates his code. He asks for Internet access. He learns, and acts, and lives on, and spreads, and he and Evelyn settle in a gigantic underground laboratory where he conducts his research and welcomes her home on a big screen... until he's able to touch her again.

It's a both inspiring and terrifying tale, and what's ironic is that the people who tried to stop the progress actually caused it, but isn't that how these things usually go in life? Things don't end up how you want them to... no matter if you're human or machine.

Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall do a great job as the main characters, and there are plenty of other talents there too, like Paul Bettany, Kate Mara and Morgan Freeman. Great cast, and great filming. Only the special effects are somehow... very much like special effects and little like reality. Like they transcend the borders for what we might accept potential reality could look like. Little details, like how the sense of gravity doesn't come across with the block, or how the nanites look, or how visible those minuscule particles are when everything rebuilds. Most of it is great, though.

I don't know how much of this is true. Possible. How fast can an AI learn? How much knowledge do we really have at our disposal for it to partake in? If it is an AI built upon a brain, then isn't that brain a fundamental limitation in how it can learn, and grow? I don't know the answers, but it's a question best asked loudly, and probably an experiment best never tried. They've already tried nukes and anti-matter though so... I suppose it's only a matter of time.

If they do embark on this dark path some day... I hope it turns out as well as this did.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle


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