Saw a shorter version of this a couple of times during the Superbowl:
Intriguing premise — a guy takes a pill that turbo-charges his brain. It doesn’t look terribly realistic, but the appearance of a major transhumanist theme in popular culture is always an interesting thing to see.
The specific theme I’m thinking about is cognitive enhancement — smarter living through pharmacology, in this instance. However, the capabilities that Bradley Copper displays in the trailer bring us fairly close to another major theme: the emergence of greater-than-human-intelligence. When Cooper tells Deniro that he sees every scenario and that he will always be 50 steps ahead…
Could the Singularity arrive in the form of a pill?
Now of course we can expect some highly predictable Hollywood stuff in Limitless.
- There will be terrible side-effects. That much is clear from the trailer.
- In the end, using the drug will not have been worth it.
- The whole thing will probably be a parable about Hubris. (Why? Because everything always has to be a freaking parable about Hubris.) Deniro even says something about the abilities the pill provides being “unearned.” As if any of us ever “earned” our innate cognitive capabilities!
That’s all to be expected. At least they’re making a movie about cognitive enhancement. A movie that comes out in favor of cognitive enhancement? We’ll probably have to wait for that.
I happened to watch Good Will Hunting a few weeks ago, which stars Matt Damon in his break-out role as a working-class super-genius with a troubled past. A good movie, overall — I’d say it holds up. On the issue of whether intelligence is ”earned,” it agrees with me. At one point, Damon tells Minnie Driver that he doesn’t know why, but things that are very difficult for other people are ridiculously easy for him.
I remember thinking as I watched the movie how much I would like to be able to do what he does. To read tirelessly and effortlessly, and remember flawlessly, would be a great start — but to look at a problem and simply understand the solution. Or to be able to do this:
What I love most about that speech is that he tells the jerk what page he got his keen insight from. PWNED!
I would totally take the pill. Would you?