Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Saturday, 10 May 2014 22:06

Transcending the digital hype

By
Transcending the digital hype http://platosacademic.wordpress.com

Sci-Fi speculative thriller Transcendence is a poor film by nearly all standards. Its storyline and plot are weak; its characters are shallow and less than believable; and its resolution is more than disappointing. Yet the ideas and questions it raises about our interconnected digital universe are thought provoking to say the least.

I am not talking about the overt nonsense in the tale where the main character’s personality is uploaded into a supercomputer, which subsequently attempts to forcefully elevate humanity into a perceived higher state of digital interconnected consciousness. The story is not really about a misguided superhuman online digital intelligence that attempts to remake our damaged world using a combination of mind control and nanotechnology.

No, as is so often the case in fantastic tales such as these, the real story is in the far more mundane subtext. The terrible unthinkable truth, according to this story, is that the unfettered growth of the technology enabling our interconnected digital universe is destroying our humanity and, by extension, threatening our existence.

From the outset, Transcendence poses the question of who are the real enemies of society.  Should we fear the “terrorists” who through any means at their disposal, including violence, attempt to bring down the Internet and the global technological infrastructure? Or should we instead fear the scientific industrial complex, which allegedly seeks to enslave us in an all-seeing, all-knowing digital matrix? To some, this could be considered a subversive film for even posing such a question.

Paradoxically, the main character of the film – the brilliant computer scientist whose technology allows him to be morphed into an online super intelligence – seems conflicted on the very issue of the wired versus unplugged world. He prefers to listen to his favourite music on a turntable playing a vinyl record rather than use an iPod. He also builds a Faraday cage in his back yard to shield his tiny flower garden from electromagnetic radiation. Yet he has no problem espousing the virtues of creating an all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent globally networked artificial intelligence with godlike powers.

As the narrator explains in the aftermath of an apocalyptic technological meltdown, the Internet was supposed to make the world a smaller place. In fact, as the narrator contends, the world without the Internet seems much smaller. To some, the picture Transcendence paints of a society unplugged from technology may not seem so bad. Yes there is no power, roads are overgrown with weeds, buildings are in decay, and soldiers in combat fatigues patrol the streets to keep order. However, people are riding bicycles and a local shopkeeper opens for business wedging an old computer keyboard underneath his door to keep it ajar. Despite the disarray, there seems to be an odd sense of community.

Transcendence, unlike the classic Sci-Fi flicks of machine intelligence gone mad, such as Terminator and The Matrix, is set in our present time and attempts to challenge us with uncomfortable questions. Unfortunately, because it is such a poorly made and scripted film, it does this in a very dreary and clumsy manner. Thus, far fewer will see it than if it had been a box office blockbuster.  Then again, Kubrick’s 2001 was also a box office flop on its initial release, not that Transcendence comes even close to that masterpiece. Perhaps a better comparison would be with the cult Sci-Fi classic They Live – as a work of art, the product is poor but the message is unmistakably valid.


BACK TO HOME PAGE

NEW OFFER - ITWIRE LAUNCHES PROMOTIONAL NEWS & CONTENT

Recently iTWire remodelled and relaunched how we approach "Sponsored Content" and this is now referred to as "Promotional News and Content”.

This repositioning of our promotional stories has come about due to customer focus groups and their feedback from PR firms, bloggers and advertising firms.

Your Promotional story will be prominently displayed on the Home Page.

We will also provide you with a second post that will be displayed on every page on the right hand side for at least 6 weeks and also it will appear for 4 weeks in the newsletter every day that goes to 75,000 readers twice daily.

POST YOUR NEWS ON ITWIRE NOW!

INVITE DENODO EXECUTIVE VIRTUAL ROUNDTABLE 9/7/20 1:30 PM AEST

CLOUD ADOPTION AND CHALLENGES

Denodo, the leader in data virtualisation, has announced a debate-style three-part Experts Roundtable Series, with the first event to be hosted in the APAC region.

The round table will feature high-level executives and thought leaders from some of the region’s most influential organisations.

They will debate the latest trends in cloud adoption and technologies altering the data management industry.

The debate will centre on the recently-published Denodo 2020 Global Cloud Survey.

To discover more and register for the event, please click the button below.

REGISTER HERE!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

BACK TO HOME PAGE

Webinars & Events

VENDOR NEWS

REVIEWS

Comments