Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Transcendent Man

Aaron Saenz reviews Ray Kurzweil's docu-bio Transcendent Man, which recently premiered to rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival:

Kurzweil, his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his detractors all appear in filmed interviews to discuss his most famous predictions: intelligence is following an exponential growth curve, as technology increases the differences between technology and humanity will shrink, and eventually the human-machine civilization will be advancing so quickly that no one can truly understand what it will be like. The last concept is known as the singularity. Borrowed from physics, Kurzweil and others use the term to describe the inability to comprehend the seemingly limitless intelligence that will arise past this point in our future. This intelligence will have amazing powers of perception, communication, and understanding. As this future being (or beings) grows it will encompass the universe and would seem in our eyes to be God-like.

Transcendent Man does a good job of describing this concept to its viewers. Flashing diagrams and evolving graphs are interposed with images of current robotic technology. Ptolemy pushes ideas into the audience with repetition and visual support. Words from Kurzweil and other interviewees are captured and reappear as flowing, growing subtitles. Data and statements swirl around faces as they talk about them. It’s like watching an interactive holographic projection of their thoughts and it works beautifully.

The movie should be in theaters this summer. Here's the official trailer:

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