This is my video on YouTube on transhumanism in movies: 8 tips in 5 themes. Let me know: what is your favorite movie?
Which series, films and fiction books touch important points when it comes to transhumanism? Broadly speaking, I have followed the classification of the different forms within transhumanism:
If you have another tip, please leave a comment down below!
Making super people or cyborgs often comes back in films and series. Take the series The $6 million man [link below]. This series was broadcast from 1974 to 1978. The protagonist Steve Austin was rebuilt with bionic components.
In 2020 the movie The Six Billion Dollar Man is made as a successor to the serie.
A more recent example is the movie Ghost in the Shell from 2017 [link below]. This film with Scarlett Johansson is a remake of the original from 1995 with the title Kôkaku Kidôtai. An interesting aspect of the story is the extent to which you are still yourself, if you have bionic components that are owned by a company or government.
The film Upgrade (2018) plays with a different theme: who has control and power if you can radically improve your intelligence and skills with a brain implant connected to the internet?
The concept of cryogenic suspension is regularly used in science fiction films, series and books. In the movie Demolition Man (1993) with Sylvester Stalone and Wesley Snipes, prisoners are frozen for a long time as a method of punishment.
In Passengers (2016), astronauts (played by Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt) have been frozen to bridge a long space journey.
The film Vanilla Sky (2001) with Tom Cruise is more philosophical. What if your memory is erased when you go into cryogenic suspension? What do you experience when you are frozen? What memories do you have when you are brought back to life.
The idea of mind uploading stimulates the imagination of writers and directors, perhaps most of them. Of course The Matrix (1999) comes to mind, although it is more about simulating reality than mind uploading.
In the film Self/less (2015) with Ryan Reynolds, the content of the brain is transferred from one person to another. The picture at the top of this article is from this movie.
In the Altered Carbon (2018) series, the brain, including a person’s personality, is placed in a kind of diskette. By placing the disk in a younger body you can eventually grow very old. By the way, I thought this concept worked out nicely: there is a scene that the (floppy disk of the) grandmother of the protagonist is in the body of a large tattooed bearded motorcyclist.
In the episode Be right back by Black Mirror (2015), the idea is that a deceased person can live on by analyzing their social media. This looks eerily similar to the Bin48 and Eterni.me projects that I have described in my article about transhumanism technology.
At first the lead actress is happy with the robot version of her deceased husband, including the performance in the bedroom, until she realizes that she still misses his human shortcomings.
Are we still safe as a human being when super intelligence arises? In Transcendence (2014) with Johnny Depp, a scientist copies his brain content into a computer. For a long time, the film played with the question of whether the artificial intelligence system that was created is actually the scientist or an independent algorithm.
In the movie The Titan (2018), an astronaut on Earth is adapted to be more resistant to life in space. He appears to have improbable physical capacities, but it also drastically changes his personality.
I must add that it is a bad film, so it is not in my top 10 recommendations. But because of the intriguing concept I thought it was worthwhile to include the film in this overview. I can certainly recommend the other series and films mentioned.
In recent years, various documentaries have appeared about transhumanism or aspects of it. Below is a brief summary:
Technocalyps (2006). The Flemish filmmaker and philosopher Frank Theys made this documentary in three parts. Other features in the documentary include Anders Sandberg. The documentary can be found on YouTube [link below].
Transcendent Man (2009). This documentary is about the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil. You can stream the documentary for a fee via Amazon [link below].
More Human than Human (2016). This documentary was released in the Netherlands by 2Doc and broadcast by NPO. The documentary focuses on the development of robotics and super intelligence, including Nick Bostrom, Gary Kasparov and Stephen Hawking.
Even more than in non-fiction, ideas from transhumanism find their way into fiction, as you will see later. This does not alter the fact that the above-mentioned documentaries provide a good picture of the current ideas and state of affairs in science and technology.
Do you want to know more about transhumanism?
Please contact me if you have any questions! Like if you want to invite me to give a lecture, presentation or webinar at your company, at your congress, symposium or meeting.
Or if you want to book a session with me as an expert consultant on this area.
This section contains additional information: my presentation on the subject, a few videos and the list with all links.
Earlier I wrote the following articles on this theme: