New Kurzweil Documentary Film 'Transcendent Man' To Lead the Singularity Movie Parade

March 17 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Entertainment   Year: 2009   Rating: 2 Hot

Edging out the forthcoming Singularity Movie (not to be confused with this web version), here comes Transcendent Man, a new documentary film that portrays Ray Kurzweil and his vision of a, well, transcendent future for mankind.  The film appears to be packed with star-power and will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC this April.  The trailer below indicates 1) a focus on universal human transcension (a positive expansion of human perspective, imho), and 2) an attempt at objective framing by allowing in some critical voices, but none of the heavy hitters - appears to be mostly straw men.  While I am optimistic the film will represent a socially necessary forward push of philosophical futurism, many futurists and I will ultimately judge this work on its analytical and objective qualities.  That said, I'm hoping it delivers and eagerly await its broader release (probably via a cable network).

Some choice excerpts from the producer's press release:

[TRANSCENDENT MAN] Kurzweil around the globe as he presents the daring arguments from his best-selling book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Kurzweil predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than today. This will be the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil’s post-biological world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed, world hunger and poverty will be solved, and we will ultimately cure death.

Ptolemy expertly explores the social and philosophical implications of these profound changes and the potential threats they pose to human civilization in dialogues with world leaders such as Colin Powell; technologists Hugo de Garis, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Warwick, and Dean Kamen; journalists Kevin Kelly and Tom Abate; and luminary Stevie Wonder. Kurzweil himself maintains a radically optimistic view of the future course of human development, while acknowledging new dangers. As such, TRANSCENDENT MAN offers a view of the coming age that is both a dramatic culmination of centuries of technological ingenuity and a genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.

"My ideas challenge people's most basic assumptions about life, death, and what it means to be human,” says Kurzweil. “Through many conversations, it became clear to me that Barry Ptolemy had a deep understanding of these ideas and their impact on every aspect of human life. I thought he could make a great movie and it would appear that he has."

TRANSCENDENT MAN is an evocative film that not only brings to light Kurzweil’s amazing vision of the future but also exposes the heart and soul of the man behind the exponential curves. Given unprecedented access to every aspect of Ray Kurzweil’s life for more than 24 months, the Ptolemys delve deep inside the mind of this complex man and deliver a personal, uncompromising account of the man behind the science and his surprisingly private motivations for this transformative vision.

“I believe our film offers something many Hollywood films and documentaries lack today: hope about our future,” says producer Felicia Ptolemy. “Ray is describing the technologies that we, the human race, have created as a tool we can use for good, rather than the continual narrative that we are on a path to destroying ourselves. We intend for this film to combat cynicism with the idea that we can and will change the world for the better."

"When Barry first introduced us to Ray, we were blown away by the boldness of his claims,” says Executive Producer Joseph Disanto. “His concepts on our evolution and the ability to live as long as we want evoke huge questions and implications about how we understand ourselves. We are really excited about helping further awareness of these topics.”

Will the release of Transcendent Man mark a positive step for futurism?

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