Re: Extropy: The Movie (in Transhuman-o-vision)

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 1 Aug 1997 23:30:51 +0200 (MET DST)

> What about a movie version of Sterling's novel
> _Schismatrix_...quite a few transhuman notions therein.

Yes. But it would be a *huge* movie, something like Exodus or Dune.
The book stretches over one century of accelerating change - hard to
make a movie of. Although parts certainly would work (unfortunately
it is the lowlife setting of the Zaibatsu in the first chapters that
I think would work best, and that is nearly conventional cyberpunk).

Chris Behrens <>:

> I think the best approach would be something 'ala Atlas Shrugged,
> where important people disappear, one by one. Somehow, one of them
> slips and reveals their influence in the real world. They are of
> course, being uploaded.

Hmm, something like the Copies in Greg Egan's _Permuation City_?
Although these uploads were public and had some PR problems (some of
the rich uploads even tried to improve the image of uploads by
memetic engineering through a sitcom :-)

> At the very end, a newscast plays out, telling the world that the
> now-famous hero has disappeared mysteriously...

Not bad, would likely work as a novel too. Not 100% original, but

On Fri, 1 Aug 1997 wrote:

> Try to avoid The Lawnmower Man 2, they decided to go down the route of "VR's
> now so good it looks just like real life" and the whole film consists of kids
> pretending to fly in front of a blue screen.

Sorry, your warning is too late. I saw it... it took me several days
to recover. The *only* thing I liked (and I mean it literally) was
the decorations made of mathematical symbols on the bridge in the
dome. The rest was [breaks out in a long and inventive rant about
the lack of creativity in Hollywood]

> The best way to get a point across is to ignore black and white, and go for a
> nice fuzzy grey. Several themes have crossed my mind:
> 1. A rebellion against all these 'American President saves the world'
> movies. Instead have a time travelling assassin download himself into
> someone's body with the mission of killing the president because of his
> opposition to anarchy. This could lead to a great opportunity of showing the
> government through the eyes of someone who's seen better.

Fun. But not likely to work well. Maybe it would be better to film _V
for Vendetta_? That novel would certainly work as a film; putting an
anarchist assassin as the protagonist might be too hard to deal with
for most.

> 2. Have a couple of people thaw out of cryonic suspension and go on to
> explore the wonderful possibilities of the posthuman world. Keep the
> audience in awe of the possibilities and they might not notice the lack of
> good vs. evil. And then, just when they think it's all over interrupt the
> credits with scientific news on actually progress towards these possibilities
> (You could also throw in a natural disaster, get them all working towards a
> goal).

Hard to make interesting - utopias are boring, and a more realistic
posthuman world would be fairly incomprehensible, needing a lot of
tedious explanations.

Maybe one could run it as a confrontation/contrast between a
posthuman society and mehuman society? In the future there is a
schism between the transhumans and normals, and most of the
transhumans move into space (something like Schismatrix); in time two
different societies develop. The chrononauts awaken to find that the
posthumans in space have sent down a small nanite swarm to awaken
them since their cryonic suspensions will decay in time without
anyone to tend them (and the posthumans might feel grateful to their
forerunners). In doing so the posthumans have actually broken the
rules, and the mehums will be *very* angry if they find out. So the
posthumans can't give them any direct help, but either they will have
to adapt to the mehuman society, or find a way to get into space.
Could be interesting to show the choice between a normal, limited but
basically understandable human existence, and an incomprehensible
posthuman world - some of the people might choose one over the
another, and it is uncertain if anyone is wrong.

> > Another way of showing transhuman themes in an interesting way is to
> > look at their human consequences. What about a movie about a family
> > where a daughter is uploaded after an accident, something like the
> > typical movie where the daughter is handicapped and people struggle
> > to adapt and understand the situation?
> Not exactly the kind of groundbreaking film to alter the perception of the
> world though (which I think is what we're aiming for here).

Hard to do that in one sweep. Few films ever does that (some books
do, however). I think it is a good idea to make transhuman memes leak
into the mainstream, that is where we want them.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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