This article aims to draw a picture of how we currently visualize human vs. artificial intelligence. I will use movies as an informative medium for the question of how we culturally reckon with the question of future human development. Science fiction movies show images depicting the transcendence of the human, which I take to be significant for the contemporary conditio humana. I will examine how movies like Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) or Transcendence (Wally Pfister, 2014) imagine human and artificial life. My main focus will be on the concept of disembodied intelligences, which has become a central topos in contemporary cinema. Portrayals of future artificial intelligences or superintelligences (a merger of human minds with technology), use the image of an artificial neural net, which is omnipresent (e.g. the Internet), but exhibits no concrete form of embodiment. Such a net structure expands the image of the neural net into a global dimension. These superintelligences are represented as disembodied, but as I will show, the unfolding narratives use images of embodiment to explain the genesis of these intelligences. I will show how the presentation of technology as a highly complex and dynamic net-structure relates to neuroscientific imagery and the characteristics of the human brain. In this article I attempt to clarify how the neuroscientific reduction of consciousness to cerebral processes informs images of disembodied superintelligences in contemporary cinema.


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pp. 33-50
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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