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Transcendent Man (2009)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,417 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 4 critic

Ray Kurzweil is on a journey to bring his ideas to the world.

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TRANSCENDENT MAN chronicles the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist that presents his bold vision of the Singularity, a point in the near future when technology will be changing so rapidly, that we will have to enhance ourselves with artificial intelligence to keep up. Ray predicts this will be the dawning of a new civilization in which we will no longer be dependent on our physical bodies, we will be trillions of times more intelligent and there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed; world hunger and poverty will be solved and we will ultimately cure death. Critics accuse Ray of being too optimistic and argue that the dangers of the Singularity far outweigh the benefits, pointing out the apocalyptic implications that once machines achieve consciousness, we may not be able to control them. Whether Rays controversial ideas incite excitement or fear, dogma or disbelief this ... Written by Felicia Ptolemy and Celia Black

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1 March 2011 (USA)  »

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Will compete in the World Documentary Feature Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival 2009. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Portrait of a Hopeless Optimist
14 March 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The subject of this documentary, Ray Kurzweil, is an accomplished inventor and futurist whose creations include a reading machine for the blind. The film focuses on Kurzweil's ideas about "The Singularity" an event in which humans will be able to incorporate machines into their bodies, including their brains, and augment their intelligence. Kurzweil sees a great deal of promise in this, including the potential for immortality.

The film provides an interesting portrait of the man and his ideas, but it suffers from a relative lack of questioning of his optimism. Kurzweil has an at times deterministic vision of technological progress that fails to account for human foibles, and the double-edged sword of technology itself.

For example,Kurzweil dismisses the issue of class totally as it applies to who can benefit from technological advancement. Kurzweil argues that the costs of new technology are only prohibitive during its early stages. He points to the fact that his reading machines for the blind have become more affordable. This ignores the fact that even in a wealthy society like the United States, many people cannot afford even basics like health care. The benefits of Kurzweil's techno-utopia are likely to fall on the wealthy alone.

Furthermore, the law of accelerating returns that Kurzweil relies on seems deterministic, and ignores variables such as declining natural resources. At times, his faith in technological progress has an almost religious quality, particularly given the fact that he places so much hope on technology for achieving immortality.


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