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Film / The Singularity Is Near

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The Singularity Is Near is a 2008 Speculative Documentary directed by Ray Kurzweil, author of the book of the same name. The film deals with artificial intelligence and the future of humanity, laying out Kurzweil's law of accelerating returns and what that could mean for technology, industry, and the definition of what it means to be human.

The film also features a sci-fi storyline about an artificial intelligence named Ramona, and the changes she undergoes from her creation to becoming completely self-aware. She also must fight for her right to be recognized as a conscious person.


The Singularity Is Near contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The film talks about the technological advances that will be made in the next twenty years. The Ramona side plot follows this timeline to the first legally sentient AI.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Ramona is viewed as a threat by the government, who seek to delete her. She is forced to file for federal recognition as a sentient entity.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Has advanced so far that one specimen seeks recognition as a person in the eyes of the law.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Ramona, as demonstrated by the nanobots incident.
  • Cyberspace: Much of the Ramona side-plot takes place here.
  • Deus Est Machina
    Ray Kurzweil: If you asked me "Does God exist?", I would say "Not yet."
  • Digital Avatar: Since Ramona is a virtual consciousness, the digital avatar is her actual body.
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  • Do Androids Dream?: Examined with the evolution of A.I. Ramona, until she attempts to prove herself a sentient person in a court of law.
  • Exposition Diagram: The movie and especially the book uses graphs to show how the growth of technology is exponential.
  • Film of the Book: The book is much more information dense and goes into deeper detail regarding the implications (technical, biological, social, etc.) of accelerating technology.
  • Grey Goo: A contingent of nanobots begins to replicate out of control, only stopped when Ramona implants a virus into their programming.
  • Humans Are Special:
    • In order to avoid deletion, Ramona has to prove herself at least as human as other Turing Test participants.
    • Ultimately subverted, since it's not our humanness that makes us special, but our complex brains which allow sentience.
  • Info Dump: The book is much more detailed than the movie, going into great detail about the potential of accelerating technology on many aspects of human life.
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  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Kurzweil predicts this to happen once human-level artificial intelligence is achieved.
  • Nanomachines: A group of them almost destroy the world, only averted by Ramona reprogramming them.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: The world portrayed in the Ramona side-plot. Technology has become ubiquitous and much more capable than anything today.
  • Robot Girl: Virtual girl, Ramona.
  • The Singularity: The entire focus of the film, and its effect on different aspects of life.
  • Speculative Documentary: Ray Kurzweil uses the acceleration of technology to project where we will be in just a few decades. These inferred capabilities are the basis of the parallel Ramona story.
  • Transhuman: An underlying connotation of The Singularity, once technology is used to enhance normal human capabilities.
  • Virtual Reality: Second Life is displayed at first, until it is surpassed by more advanced iterations of cyberspace.


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