Against a swirling montage of cosmic birth and destruction, and newsreel-style stills from his personal history, the celebrated inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil sits in silhouette, contemplating death. He broods over mortality's toll in waste and pain, and the hopelessness and loss that people must experience in their last moments of life. "It's such a profoundly sad, lonely feeling that I really can't bear it," he admits.
Then, cheerfully, he adds, "So I go back to thinking about how I'm not going to die."
That opening sequence of Transcendent Man, the new documentary by director Barry Ptolemy that profiles Kurzweil and his ideas, neatly distills the sometimes jarring predictions and preoccupations of its subject. The film is about Kurzweil's belief that within just a few decades technology will allow human beings to transcend the physical and intellectual limitations of their biology. It also paints Kurzweil as a brilliant man who has personally always risen above the skepticism and misunderstanding of his doubters.I don't know about you, but having my consciousness cloned and installed into an artificially intelligent machine doesn't excite me that much. I'd much prefer to greatly extend my biological body's overall health, youthful vigor, and lifespan. To read the rest of the review, click here.