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Review: The Singularity Documentary on iTunes

“Within the coming decades we will be able to create AIs with greater than human intelligence, bio-engineer our species and re-design matter through nanotechnology. How will these technologies change what it means to be human? Director Doug Wolens speaks with leading futurists, computer scientists, artificial intelligence experts, and philosophers who turn over the question like a Rubik’s Cube. Ultimately, if we become more machine-like, and machines more like us, will we sacrifice our humanity to gain something greater? Or will we engineer our own demise? THE SINGULARITY is a comprehensive and insightful documentary film that examines technology’s accelerating rate, and deftly addresses the resulting moral questions.”

Doug Wolens excellent documentary on Transhumanism and The Singularity is now out on  iTunes:

Wolens film introduces many of the main ideas of Transhumanism and includes face to face interviews with leading thinkers in the field interspersed with informative short animations.

Unsurprisingly this includes Ray Kurzweil himself, but it also a number of other less well known figures in Transhumanist world such as roboticist Cynthia Breazeal, artificial intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel, and gerontologist Aubrey de Grey. The film includes interviews and conversation with Ray Kurzweil, Barney Pell, Richard A. Clarke, Marshall Brain, Cynthia Breazeal, Ralph Merkle, Brad Templeton, Jonas Limas, Paul Saffo,Eliezer Yudkosky, Peter Voss, Ben Goertzel, Chris Phoenix, Peter Norvig, Alison Gopnik, David Chalmers, Christine Peterson, Wolfe Singer, Christof Koch, Andy Clark, Matt Francis, Aubrey De Grey, Bill McKibben, David Friedman, Glenn Zorpete, and Leon Panetta.

Ray Kurzweil’s far reaching optimism and somewhat loose talk about exponential growth is brought back to Earth by the EFF’s Brad Templeton. Each time a controversial view is presented, a conversation ensues that presents an alternaitve viewpoint. The film will therefore be of interest both to futurists and critics of futurist thinking. The  film also interestingly includes interviews with two people not normally associated with the Transhumanist scene but well known elsewhere Richard A. Clarke, the former chief counterterrorism advisor to the U.S. National Security Council, and former U.S. secretary of defense and DCI, Leon Panetta.

Zealots and haters will both find things to disagree with and argue about in this film. For example the appearance of the SIAI’s Eliezer Yudkosky will be controversial in some quarters as will David Chalmers comments. For those interested in a balanced review of  topics such as general artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, longevity, and The Singularity this is certainly the best documentary film out there today.

The Singularity should be included in any introductory academic course on Transhumanism, The Singularity or related topics. And you can share this film with your non-Transhumanist friends, relatives, and other normal folk without fear. Go get it.