Transcendence was a weird movie. No, honestly, it just sucked.
I liked the concept. I mean exploring the potential of being able to “back up” a person’s consciousness and personality is a worthy pursuit of science fiction. Exploring the morality, ethics, and potential tragedies associated with the act worthy. I mean attempting to archive and let survive within a computer our concept of a non-physical human is something both science fiction and science should spend a great deal of time doing.
This was far fetched science fiction back in the day of Jewels Verne, but not so far fetched now. A perfect storm of research for other things will put us on the threshold of such a feat within a decade. The mental mapping/studies going on to help spinal cord injury victims and dementia patients combined with genome mapping and several other fields of study will, rightly or wrongly, put us at the brink of being able to back up a consciousness. But should we?
Stargate SG-1 introduced a race of advanced aliens who routinely backed up their consciousness. There were also able to clone full sized bodies and “install” the consciousness before booting, for lack of a better word, the laboratory clone.
Battlestar Glactica (the new series, not the original) gave us Cylon “skin jobs” whose consciousness was uploaded at the moment of death to a Resurrection ship where it was installed into another Cylon of the same model and it was “booted.”
You may notice a common theme with the last two shows. The ability to produce another biological or semi-biological vessel for the consciousness to inhabit. If we ever do get to the stage of being able to back up a human consciousness you can bet the very rich will scout around for an existing young and beautiful body to be downloaded into. We may never be able to grow non-living vessels which can be booted after a consciousness has been installed.
Transcendence a necessary step?
This whole theme has been explored by various science fiction works from various angles and yet it has not been completely explored. Transcendence was probably a necessary step in that exploration, but sadly, this movie didn’t work. At least not for me.
Maybe Transcendence failed because of its beginning. In the opening when Johnny Depp was the absent minded professor who hated social gatherings exchanging good-natured barbs with his wife it all seemed very real. I actually could have enjoyed this movie had those two characters been allowed to continue as they were, moving the story off to a throw away character, keeping in tact the characters we originally bonded with.
The premise was interesting, but the story handled it poorly.