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Technocalyps (2006)

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Technocalyps examines transhumanism. Experts and scientists discuss whether human beings will use discoveries in genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence to enhance ... See full summary »

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Title: Technocalyps (2006)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jay McMahon ...
Himself - Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Osman Bakar ...
Himself - Professor
Michel Baudry ...
Himself - Professor
Ted Berger ...
Himself - Center for Neural Engineering
Ian Buruma ...
Himself - Writer
Jean-Jacques Cassiman ...
Himself - Professor of Human Genetics
L. Stephen Coles ...
Himself - Gerontology Research Group
Yang Dan ...
Herself - Professor
Sadaputa Dasa ...
Himself - Author
Hugo De Garis ...
Himself - A.I. Researcher
Aubrey de Grey ...
Himself - Author
Thomas B. DeMarse ...
Himself - Researcher
Anne Foerst ...
Herself - Professor of Theology & Computer Science
Erin D. Green ...
Himself - Professor
Mark Humayun ...
Himself - Professor
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Technocalyps examines transhumanism. Experts and scientists discuss whether human beings will use discoveries in genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence to enhance their bodies and minds beyond their current physical and mental forms. Written by Shatterdaymorn

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Lies, pomp and misrepresentation
3 January 2010 | by (Thessaloniki, Greece) – See all my reviews

This is supposed to be a documentary about some very hot issues: The relationship between human body and machine, biotechnology and the engineering of our bodies, the ideology of Transhumanism and the Technological Singularity: the imagined point in time when the products of our technology will become autonomous and smart enough to design their successors themselves. These are some very important and exciting issues, closely related to current arising technologies. There are many critics and many proponents of such technologies, all with respectable and informed opinions. None of them appear here.

Instead, the whole thing degrades from the first couple of minutes into a conflict between two imaginary sides, the "Scientists" and the "Critics": The former consists of a small number of people chosen for their extremist positions and (often unfounded) expectations of the future, such as the highly controversial entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil and the artist Natasha Vita-More. Their opinions are made to sound as if representing the research community; in truth, they represent a loud but small minority whose (often uninformed) wild expectations about technology are accompanied with militant positions about the inferiority of the human body and nature in general. A small number of renowned thinkers are then added in this group, including Marvin Minsky and Bruce Sterling. Since these are informed people of moderate positions, their interviews are cut to generic one-liners about technological change, and are finally made to appear endorsing the "Mad Pro-Technology Scientists" side. Having scared the viewer to hell with the idea that mad scientists are planning to replace him with a robot in the next 5-10 years, the "documentary" then presents the other side: The Critics. This is an even more caricatured group, led by Kirkpatrick Sale, the man who has described personal computers as "The devil's work". They soon proceed to describe the Unabomber's approach as a very reasonable attitude against the impending technological disaster. 'Nuff said.

As if reducing the debate into a cartoon fight between Frankenstein wannabees and machine-bashing hermits was not enough, the movie takes sides: In a display of the most tasteless propagandist tricks, "Scientists" always appear in poorly illuminated labs or have their voice played over images of deformed embryos floating over pitch-black backgrounds. In contrast, the "Critics" rant about smashing civilization from brightly lit natural environments, amidst the chirping of birds and whisper of trees. The result is so raw it's not even funny.

Technically, the movie is a bit below mediocre. Simplistic effects, dull editing and pretty much nothing more, all in the service of creating a sense of Nasty Things About To Happen.

The most amazing aspect of the documentary is probably the amount of misinformation. Anything said about any subject from Evolutionary Computation to the Luddites is either plain wrong or so misinterpreted it's worse than wrong. In all 2:30 hours of pompous fear-mongering and mad ravings I was hard-pressed to find a handful of actual correct statements. My field being A.I., however, I can only imagine that the degree of misinformation on biotechnology will be more or less the same.

All in all, this is a bad, bad film. Do not watch it, or, if you chose to do so, do not believe anything mentioned in it. A pity.


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