Transcendence Poster

Before I begin with my philosophical musings, I would like to say that it was good to see Johnny Depp acting a role where he was not required to over act. I remembered why I like him.

Ultimately, this movie is about the human condition. Love, life and death, the greater good, autonomy and where we draw the line. The initial premise, that we could upload a human being’s consciousness to a computer and thus immortalise them, is the tool to explore our humanity.

Having just lost somebody very close to me, the question of how far I would go to keep them with me is a pertinent one. Right now, the yearning for one last conversation is almost unbearable, the sense of loss a yawning cavern that I want to fill with their steady presence once again. We struggle with the concept of death, more so in the losing of a loved one than the losing of our own life. Evelyn’s saving of Will, through converting his consciousness to a digitalised version of him, is much more about her need than his. Her grief so stark that no risk is too far if it means that she doesn’t have to lose him.

Then there is the question of the greater good and where the line should be drawn.  What cost is too great if the reward is medical marvels, a healthy planet? Autonomy is key. The price of advancement will be tolerated provided the human population feels that it retains control over its destiny. We don’t take well to too much control and will always push back when the weight of it becomes constrictive to our sense of individuality. The self-awareness that makes us human and the genetic drive to survive will always make us shy away from the concept of our AI overlords, no matter how benevolent they may purport to be.

Whilst the end of the movie returns us to the love story, the real strength of Transcendence is in the questions that it poses about who we are, what we want and what we are prepared to do to get it. There is a price, a cost to all of our desires and we have to work out where the line is between want and let go. Humanity’s biggest problem will ultimately be that our very nature as autonomous individuals means that the line will be in a different place for each of us, we will be forever at war with our selves. Maybe there’s something to be said for our AI overlords, after all…

Captain Kat

Traveller through space and time. Lover of page and screen. Mistress of my own ship.