The day is soon approaching when a lucky few - myself included - will see the work of futurist Ray Kurzweil not in words, but as depicted on film. A sneak preview of The Singularity is Near: A True Story About The Future, will be shown at the Sonoma Film Festival on Friday, April 16th, 2010.Based on the concepts in Kurzweil's book, which bears the same title, the film presents his controversial yet daring arguments around a post-biological world, where boundaries blur between human and machine, real and virtual, and where human aging and illness are reversed.
Written and co-produced by Kurzweil, the film is a full-length motion picture which intertwines an A-line documentary with a B-line narrative story. The documentary features Kurzweil interacting with "a panoply of thinkers on the impact of exponentially expanding technologies on the nature of human life in the next half century." This impressive sampling includes Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, robotics and telepresence pioneer Marvin Minksy, Aubrey de Grey, and more.
Segue into the narrative story, and here's where my heart starts racing:
The intertwined B-line is the story of Ramona, Ray Kurzweil’s female alter ego, starting with actual footage of Kurzweil creating and demonstrating his virtual creation at the 2001 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, where Ray – as Ramona – sang Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” This presentation was the inspiration for the Warner Brothers’ movie Simone, where the character played by Al Pacino turns himself into Simone, just as Ray turned himself into Ramona at TED.
The B-line continues as Ramona goes into the future where she becomes more and more humanlike and independent - a Pinocchio story. She combats an attack of self-replicating nanobots (gray goo) and hires Alan Dershowitz (who plays himself ) to press for her legal rights as a “person.”
The judge rules that he will grant her full legal personhood if she passes a “Turing test,” in which she must appear indistinguishable from an actual human in a text conversation. She gets coaching from Tony Robbins (who plays himself ) to become “more human.”
The story continues from here. . .In the past I've written about the topic with great interest, and have attended the Singularity Summit (which Kurzweil co-founded), so it would be accurate to say that I'm just-a-little excited to be part of the viewing audience at Friday's screening.
If you're in or around the Bay Area, you, too, can experience the film in the beautiful backdrop of Sonoma Valley wine country. Passes are available here - but move fast ... they won't last long.