Film Review: Supersapians (Transitions Film Festival May 2018)
Supersapians, the Rise of the Mind by Austrian writer-director Markus Mooslechner pushes the frontier of science and technology; the interface between man and machine. Supersapians explores the science and ethics behind the myriad of possibilities affording human evolution as we enter an age where technology is influencing and infiltrating almost every aspect of human experience, which begs the question: is the human race as we know it dying out as we begin to hack our very consciousness?
This film will make you aware of technology’s potential influence on your developing capacities to be much more than who you are. Throughout human existence we have sought to be a better, brighter and more powerful version of ourselves. In the recent past, bionics have sought to restore function and quality of life to those with disabilities to participate in the natural and built world. We have also witnessed the impact technology has on outsourcing labour to make our lives more comfortable, time efficient, and convenient. We no longer need to rely on memory when we have augmented many human executive functions with our portable devices.
Supersapians explores the perspectives of intellectual commentators on the cutting edge who discuss a new age of brains trained by machines for super human feats. From electrode-attuned visual motor acuity needed to excel in a video game, to harnessing brain waves to control objects in our everyday environment, the impact upon how we can now experience our world is significant. The brain-to-machine-to-brain feedback loop has far reaching potential for neural modification.
As evolutionary biologist and philosopher Richard Dawkins states in the film, for the first time in history, “human beings are in the position to intelligently design the future”. The applications are approaching that which we would have deemed impossible not too long ago. ‘Consciousness hacker’, Michael Siegel seeks to enhance the human experience for good by emulating the same wellbeing shifts afforded by meditation and yoga with technology to explore the ‘furthest reaches of human flourishing”. Neuroscientist, David Putrino sees the potential for ‘locked in’ individuals being able to communicate, and Ben Goertzel, robotics engineer, sees a future where the interface is embedded into our beings rather than accessed externally.
However, what is most controversial is not the already familiar technology of incorporating the machine into the man, but the ethical quandary of man in machine. When do we cease to exist? What actually makes up the human experience if we reduce it to the mere traffic of neurotransmitters? As philosopher Susan Schneider purports, ‘what is the self’ in this scenario and are we heading towards a mind trapped in a substrate? Is there potential for artificial intelligence to completely overcome humanity or can we co-exist in harmony? Are we the makers of our own demise? Dawkins even dares to postulate that species replacement may not be such a bad thing.
In spite of this reality check, Supersapians presents both sides of the argument in a calculated balanced and non-alarmist manner. We are left reflecting on a multitude of potential trajectories for the future of humanity, and the ultimate realisation that the ‘future’ is happening now.
If you too are curious about the impact of technology on the evolution of the human mind, this film will awaken a new narrative for both the technophobe, as well as the techno-savvy.