10 Mindf*ck Movies About Technological Singularity
Singularity. Taken at the context of technological advancement, OxfordDictionaries.com defines is as “A hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence and other technologies have become so advanced that humanity undergoes a dramatic and irreversible change”. Picture this: A time when technology has come to a point when it becomes sentient, and starts developing the ability to improve or repair itself at a faster rate than the human brain. That is Technological Singularity.
Singularity has been the premise of several sci-fi films, with most of these playing around the possibility of artificial intelligence rebelling against humans. After all, leaps in technology over the recent decades are astounding. One moment we’re trading Pokemon cards and now we’re playing Pokemon Go.
In no particular order, here are 10 films tackling Technological Singularity which may leave your minds blown:
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey
This 1968 classic is produced and directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick. The film’s plot revolves around a mysterious monolith, which seemed to have appeared out of nowhere in space. A U.S. spacecraft is sent to investigate, led by a team of astronauts and controlled by the ship’s computer named “Hal”. Having thought of being “foolproof and incapable of error”, the crew allows most of the ship’s operations to be managed by their computer-buddy. However, as the voyage continues, the crew becomes concerned of Hal’s behavior and discovers that he’s capable of making his own judgments too.
9. The Terminator Franchise
You’re most likely familiar with the Terminator films, and its unlikely supercomputer antagonist, called Skynet. When scientists decided to shut it down when it became self-aware, Skynet recognized the threat, and launched a nuclear attack on the planet, eventually leading to the war between man and machines.
8. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
One of several films that explores the possible effects of global warming, AI is set at a time when advanced humanoid robots called “Mecha” have already been developed. David is one of the robot prototypes who are capable of demonstrating feelings such as love. Determined to become a real boy, David sets on a journey to find The Blue Fairy , whom he reads about in the story “The Adventures of Pinocchio”.
7. Ex Machina (2015)
This is hands down, one of my favorite films last year. The movie starts with a computer programmer winning a one-week stay-over at the private research facility of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), the owner of the world’s biggest search Engine called Bluebook. Caleb eventually discovers that his vacation is secretly a part of a research to test the consciousness of Ava – a humanoid robot developed by Nathan himself.
6. Autómata (2014)
Set in the 2030’s Earth has become a harsh planet because of solar flares, and humans have created humanoid robots called Pilgrims to assist in making the planet more livable for the survivors. These pilgrims strictly follow two protocols: (1) They may not harm any living organism, and (2) they are not allowed to repair or modify other Pilgrims. But what if one of these robots are capable of disobeying these rules, and start making modifications and improvements to itself?
5. The Matrix Franchise
Probably one of the most well-written and well-researched items in this list, The Matrix franchise would make you question reality as you know it. With a well-developed plot and subplots, The Matrix not only explores a possible post-apocalyptic future where machines have started taking over the planet, but also delves into several philosophical and religious elements. Much of the franchise’ plot revolves around a virtual reality created by machines called the Matrix, where humans are hooked into to become an alternate power source for the machines. The last survivors of humanity anticipates the arrival of The One, who was prophesized to end the Matrix together with the war.
4. Wall-E (2008)
Wall-E is a more lighthearted interpretation of technology rapidly developing that that it becomes at par, if not greater, than humanity. Wall-E is a robot tasked to clean up and organize the waste left on Earth, who soon falls in love with another visiting robot called Eve. In this movie, robots have become self-aware and are capable of feeling emotions (the two main characters even seem to fall in love), while the humans have become lazy, obese, and helpless without their robot assistants. As I was watching it I asked myself, who is serving who?
3. Her (2013)
This film has no robot-rebellion themes but it’s equally disturbing nonetheless. Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is an introvert writer who falls in love with an operating system designed with artificial intelligence, which he now calls Samantha. Samantha seems to reciprocate Theodore’s feelings, until a time when she evolves and upgrades into something more advanced. The plot may sound ridiculous but it’s not really farfetched. Doesn’t Samantha somehow remind you of Siri or Cortana?
2. Transcendence (2014)
The title alone already refers to Technological Singularity, so it’s no question that this Johnny Depp movie is on the list. Dr. Will Caster (Depp) is a scientist obsessed with the concept of technological singularity, which he also calls “Transcendence”, and continues on to build what he hopes to be a self-aware supercomputer. When a terrorist attack leaves him with only a month to live, his wife desperately “uploads” his consciousness to a computer, giving Will a virtual form. With him now being a sentient artificial intelligence, Will keeps on developing new technologies and increasing his capabilities, making the people around him fear and doubt his motives.
1. I, Robot (2004)
With a premise that’s similar to Autómata, I, Robot is set at a time where robots were created to serve humanity, and designed to follow three laws that regulate them from harming human beings. But what if one of these robots evolve and start having emotions? Worse, what if they become intelligent enough to question, and maybe even disobey the laws?
Artificial Intelligence and its transcendence are such thought-provoking concepts, which is why it’s no wonder that more than a few films have incorporated it into their plots. Did we miss anything? There are a lot of other films tackling this controversial subject, so feel free to let us know of your recommendations through the comments sections below.