Ray Kurzweil

Ray-Kurzweil-in-Transcendent-Man

I have not seen Transcendence, but the critical buzz is not good at all. Cinematographer Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, headlined by Johnny Depp playing a scientist specializing in AI, follows that scientist as he gets his brain uploaded into a computer and begins to leave his humanity behind. While it’s a thoroughly sci-fi concept, there are some who believe that such scenarios will in fact be possible one day — and that that day may be sooner than you think. The chief proselytizer of such ideas is Ray Kurzweil, one of the most famous futurists in the world. He’s made a fortune off of multiple patents, and he doesn’t like the idea that he’ll die someday. Which is fair enough, as most people harbor the same feeling. But unlike most people, he’s serious about beating death. He consumes over 200 pills a day to regulate his body, claiming to have beaten diabetes through this regimen. But that’s just a stalling tactic until science brings us to “the singularity.” Kurzweil has proposed “The Law of Accelerating Returns.” The rate of change in evolutionary systems, he argues, increases exponentially as time goes on. It took a billion years for single-celled organisms to develop from the elements, but “only” 10 million for more complex life forms to come about. In the past century, humankind has seen more technological progress than in most of our previous history. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Pig

I think, therefore I am. I remember, therefore I have been. But if I forget, did I really exist? The movies love amnesia. Start with a character who has lost his memory and you immediately intrigue the audience with a mystery that puts them on the same page as the protagonist. Every time we go to the movies it should be like we’ve got a bout of amnesia ourselves, our brains rebooted for a whole new experience, a venture into the unknown. Not every movie provides a completely fresh encounter, but there’s usually enough there that’s distinct as far as the movie filling our mind with a visual story we haven’t exactly encountered before. Amnesiac movies are therefore a great reflexive exercise for the viewer, giving us a character to identify with on a fundamental level. Pig, an indie sci-fi flick that was recently released on DVD and streaming outlets (namely Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube), is one of those amnesiac movies. They all tend to seem alike from the get-go, so lazy comparisons to Memento have been made, but aside from the superficial premise being that there’s a guy investigating who he is, there’s not a lot of similarity. After all, as I noted, Pig is science fiction. To go into detail regarding its qualification for this genre, though, is to spoil where the investigation leads us. What I can say is that the movie deals with memory in a way inspired by Ray Kurzweil and relative […]

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Vasconcelos Library Doc

This month’s issue of “Wired” magazine features a very lengthy, in-depth article by Stephen Levy in which the author interviews Google’s Larry Page. It covers all of the massive projects the company is undertaking, from a car that drives itself to the Google Books project, which still aims to scan every book in existence and create a repository of human knowledge that is indexed, searchable, and portable. But as benevolent as that may seem on surface value, Ben Lewis’s Google and the World Brain takes a hard look at the Books project itself, the ideas behind it, and the proponents and opponents the company faces in the battle over digitalization of the printed world. The “World Brain” part of the title comes from a collection of essays H.G. Wells wrote in the late 1930s where he described a World Encyclopedia that would be free to everyone and full of all information.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with people that want to live forever and punks who throw rocks at their faces all night long. The minds behind the book “Destroy All Movies!!!,” Zack Carlson and Brian Connolly, talk about how punks have been portrayed in movies from 8MM to Zombie Nightmare. Barry Ptolemy, director of Transcendent Man, shares with us the challenges of shooting a documentary, the joy of getting to know Ray Kurzweil, and the recipe for eternal life. Plus, Katey Rich from Cinema Blend and Germain Lussier from /Film go head-to-head in our movie news quiz, and we all end up talking about Hunger Games. Naturally. Loosen up your tie and stay a while.

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The Week That Was

We do this every week. Because no one has time to read every great article we post here on Film School Rejects and be a productive member of society, the weekends provide us an excellent opportunity to get caught up on all the stuff that happened over the last seven days. This week we wrote a big helping of reviews, more than a few excellent, insightful editorials and as always, we were there when news broke to provide the necessary context (and snark). From Johnny Depp as a Hunter S. Thompson lizard to Oscar winners to solving your existential crisis with kids movies, this week that was had many twists and turns — all of which you’ll be glad you followed. So get set to get caught up with The Week That Was.

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For a very important reason, Transcendent Man begins with death. It’s a theme that pervades the entire discussion of technology, the future, and the direction that humanity might be headed in. After all, it’s that fear of death that propels us forward to delaying it, and, if Ray Kurzweil has his way, defeating it. If the idea of scientifically-created immortality (as opposed to the philosophical or Pearly Gate variety) seems outlandish, it’s only one of several put forth by Kurzweil in the film. Fortunately, it’s a movie about much more than just his predictions. It would be the dullest mind-blowing experience if it were, but instead of focusing too much on the science, the documentary creates a portrait of the man making the claims – complete with his failings and warmth. One version is a genius inventor who created a way for the blind to read. The other is a man haunted by the spectre of his father and debilitated by the thought of his own end.

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Ray Kurzweil believes that by 2030, machines will have attained something like a consciousness and that distinguishing between human and robot intelligence will be nearly impossible. This isn’t the logline for a science fiction thriller or a gimmicky Jeopardy! appearance. It’s the honest belief of an incredibly intelligent inventor, technophile, and habitual vitamin popper. You’ve got to keep your body strong if you want to live forever. So, yes, with his belief that humans may one day be able to live eternally by merging with machines (and having nanobots swim around inside our blood), Kurzweil seems pretty out there. The new trailer for Transcendent Man – a movie about Kurzweil and his ideas – seems equally as out there. Fortunately, it also seems at least mildly fair-handed unlike most documentaries these days. Check it out for yourself, and hurry up. You’re not going to live forever, you know:

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