The Machine (2013)

201509102334.jpgTitle: The Machine
Release date: April 20, 2013
Director: Caradog W. James
Producer: John Giwa-Amu
Writer: Caradog W. James
Starring: Caity Lotz; Sam Hazeldine; Toby Stephens; Pooneh Hajimohammadi; Denis Lawson
Production company: Red & Black Films
Running time: 91 minutes

The Machine is a relatively low budget film set in a near future where the UK is locked in a cold war with China. The film is set primarily in a secret research institutions developing prosthetics, robotics, and artificial intelligence in order to create a ‘super soldier’. In achieving artificial consciousness, presented in the artificial life form referred to as ‘the machine,’ the film draws upon a number of transhumanist themes. This include the idea of the singularity, notions of information patterns being the essence of human identity, and replication through simulation of the human brain as a place to locate a copy of those information.

The movie is a good example of Katherine Hayles four features of post- or transhumanism (Hayles: 1999: 2-3):

  1. A privilege given to information over material reality, with the implication that embodiment in a biological substrate is seen as transient accident of history rather than an inevitability of life;
  2. Consciousness is seen as an epiphenomenon, or side effect, of human existence rather than the seat of human identity;
  3. The view that the body is merely a prosthesis that we learn to manipulate, and that should we choose, we could extend or replace it with other suitable prostheses;
  4. This extension or replacement will be, in part, achieved by the seamless melding of human and intelligent machines

The Machine doesn’t have some of the big budget effects of larger Hollywood productions but does a good job of exploring these ideas using the a minimalist and dark environment. The film ends with the sense that humanity’s time will now be drawing to a close – at least in material form – something which is left hanging as to whether that might be for the best.

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