Singularity in the movies: "Waking Life"

From: Nick Clarke (
Date: Fri May 17 2002 - 16:42:07 MDT

Greetings from a long time lurker...

>> I'm not saying a Singularity mass market movie would be worthless. I'm
>> sure it would help raise awareness just as kurzweil's book will. But I
>> wouldn't be too optimistic about the consequences of simply bringing the
>> idea into the mass mind in such a way...
>I'll be more explicit about it: It seems to me that chances are
>exceptionally good that the movie would screw up the Singularity concept so
>horribly as to render it forever tainted in the minds of scientists and
>viewers. Where are you going to find a trustworthy Hollywood moviemaking
>organization? Science fiction, yes, but Hollywood?

One scene in Richard Linklater's "Waking Life" makes a reasonable attempt at introducing the concept of the Singularity, though it focusses more on accelerating progress / evolution than on AI. Transhumanism and volition-based "evolution" are there as well, but it's a fairly oblique approach and you'd probably need some previous experience of the ideas to fully appreciate what the character is saying. Still, it's the first movie I've seen which mentions any of this explicitly.

The film only came out here in the UK a few weeks ago; I think the (possibly limited) US release was last October. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth doing so if it's still on anywhere. It consists mostly of a string of people expounding (or ranting about, in some cases) their personal philosophies to the rather passive main character, the reason for this becoming apparent (ish) towards the end. This film has the highest idea content of any I've ever seen; you might need a couple of viewings to take it all in. Even if you don't agree with any of the philosophy, the astonishing animation-over-video style is entertainment enough. Just don't go in expecting a traditional plot, at least for the first two-thirds...

The first part of this page is a transcript of the scene in question; not bad for a two-minute scene:

The rest of the site, including an overview of the film:

Nick Clarke.

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