Transcendence: Digitising the human soul

An upcoming film in 2014, Transcendence stars Johnny Depp as a prolific research scientist in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known. Judging from the trailer below, this science fiction thriller looks to stretch the boundaries between the physical and digital interaction humans have with technology. As a result of a terrorist attack from anti-technology extremists, Depps character has his thoughts, memories and consciousness downloaded to a computer in what will become his ‘digital soul’, raising moral, social and political questions of our accelerating digital society and the repercussions of our thirst for knowledge and evolution.


Transcendence can be defined as “beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience“, something which could be argued that all modern technology is attempting to achieve on a day to day basis. What I find interesting is at what point does this go too far to heighten the human experience, changing what it means to be human altogether by completely obscuring the boundaries between digital and physical.

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