At its root, Transcendence is about a guy who gets turned into a computer. In essence, it’s the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and how AI impacts our culture, our lives, our relationships, ourselves.
I could rally around similar thoughts presented in the movie Her, but from a personal thought, the story arcs around the subtle, often little explored ‘personal intent.’ As Wayne Dyer often quotes, everything begins with a thought (i.e., intent). From a Buddhist perspective, it means that whatever we do, with our body, speech, or mind, will have a corresponding result. Each action, even the smallest, is pregnant with consequences.
Buddhist masters claim even a little poison can cause death while a tiny seed can become a huge tree. Quoting Buddha, “Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.” Thus, while Transcendence focuses upon human migration to technology, I was fascinated by an unexplored subplot: the intention to destroy.
In Transcendence, a radical fringe group headed by an intense, brow-furrowed Bree (played by Kate Mara) coordinates deadly attacks on computer labs around the country. In essence Bree feels the research is ethically/morally wrong and ‘intends’ to destroy everything associated with it. Moving from intention to action, Bree coordinates progressive simultaneous attacks, involving large numbers of death and destruction.
“Don’t lose yourself,” are the dying words of Will Caster (played Johnny Depp) to his wife, Evelyn (played by Rebecca Hall). The pivotal question is how much humanity would we lose if any one of us transcended? Accordingly, resistance against change offers positive and negative lessons.
What most fail to see is that no matter how positive the intention, bad things happen. Bree killed a lot of people. And with complete worldwide power grid and technological failure, along with resulting economic collapse, a wave of tremendous death and pain ensued. More than likely, hospital patients died, planes crashed, nuclear facilities overheated, damns burst, medical and various other maladies had to occur. Yet Bree’s intentions were never addressed.
So, the single most important lesson from the movie: Don’t lose your humanity. But everyone did … in fact … lose himself or herself. Even Bree.
Inherent in every intention and desire lay the mechanics for fulfillment. All of us have infinite organizing power. Thus, when introduce an intention on fertile ground of pure potentiality; we can put this infinite organizing power to work for us.
Just don’t lose yourself.