Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eddie Morra is a Sapien

Eddie Morra, a character played by Bradley Cooper (right) in the movie "Limitless", is what I call a Sapien, a human with an IQ in the four digits. In the movie, becoming that smart happens when Eddie (with the help of a pill) is able to use all of his brain rather than the proverbial 20%, but, in reality, gaining that level of intelligence won't happen without us hooking up with artificial intelligence.

Limitless is a parable for what Ray Kurzweil calls the "Singularity", when human and artificial intelligence intersect in about 25 years. After the Singularity there will be two hominid species on the planet - Humans and Sapiens. It has been over 40,000 years since there were two hominid species living together on earth. Back then it was Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens. We call ourselves "Human" now. I call the next species "Sapien".

In the movie Eddie takes a pill (NZT) to become smart but in real life it won't be a drug he swallows but a computer, a cocktail of intelligent nanotechnology. And, as in the movie, it is better to put it directly into the blood stream rather than ingesting it. Watson, the Jeopardy champion computer, in our veins and in our brains. The science is a bit beyond most viewers so it's easier for the film makers to just tell us it is some kind of drug. With our limited knowledge of nanotechnology a pill is easier for us to swallow.

Most reviewers, while enjoying the movie as a Sci-Fi adventure, miss the fact that this movie is one of the first, of many to come, to explore the coming Singularity and its implications for the future. And it is one of the first to get the ending right - after all a person with a four digit IQ is not stupid. The film takes us through many of the fears we have about the coming Singularity - Will it make us less humane? Won't it have dangerous side-effects? What if bad people get that smart? Won't the Sapiens kill us off the way we did with Neanderthals? Its all there for us to worry about. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Click on the heading above to see the trailer for Limitless.

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