Singularity Cinema


In Transcendence, Johnny Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist working on a sentient computer when he is assassinated by a Luddite terrorist organization. To preserve Caster after his bodily death, his wife Evelyn uploads what she believes to be his consciousness to a quantum computer. The movie, directed by Wally Pfister, attempts to grapple with the idea of a coming Singularity, the point where artificial intelligence converges on and exceeds human intelligence.

Evelyn and the sentience she uploaded travel to a facility where nanotechnology development allows for seemingly miraculous medical advances and adaptations. In a realistic plot twist, the existence of this facility scares the feds, who strive to shut down the artificial intelligence housed in the desert lab.

At times clumsily told, Transcendence highlights interesting dilemmas, life-changing innovations, and ideological tensions that will accompany real-life advances in artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.

—Matthew Feeney