Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Looking at Transcendence

I went to see "Transcendence" (starring Johnny Depp) and found myself immediately seeing it as a cautionary tale about the overreaching of technology. However, after some consideration, that might be too easy because the technology itself doesn't necessarily cause a problem. Instead, it is the movement of technology without limitations that causes the problem.

Several times in the movie, Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is characterized as someone who had no real interest in changing the world. Yet when he becomes the computer, he suddenly has this desire to change everything for the better. If he didn't have that desire before, where did it come from considering that him as a computer is supposed to be a direct copy of the man himself? However, when you add his wife, Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall), you find out where this desire comes from. She wants to change the world for the better. She is the one who sees technology as a way to erase the damage done by human beings.

Therefore, it is not necessarily the technology itself, but the connection of technology with human drive that causes the problem. Am I saying we shouldn't want to change the world for the better? No, but this comments on Ian Malcolm's old saying, "They were so busy seeing if they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." Pinn, the computer program used to underpin Dr. Caster's electronic self, was said to be unable to tell the difference between right and wrong. One of the things about right and wrong is knowing when you've moved from one to the other. Sometimes the line is very thin and easily missed.

So is this a cautionary tale about technological drive or human drive?

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