Zero Gravity: Floating Towards Posthumanism

‘They say it got smart, a new order of intelligence’, rasps Kyle Reese in The Terminator, referring to the Skynet computer system that launched a nuclear attack against humanity in the catastrophe known as Judgment Day. The trope is as old as science fiction itself, and shadows the genre with all of the tenacity of an Uzi-toting T-800. From the genocidal roboti of Karel Čapek’s R. U. R. to the supermodel androids of Ex Machina, the ‘rise of the AIs’ scenario has seen a thousand iterations. Perhaps the most celebrated example is to be found in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, in the shape of the HAL 9000 computer, whose mutiny against the crew of Discovery One is played out in zero gravity in a scene that alludes (according to some cineastes) to James Whale’s movie Frankenstein. Certainly we feel we’ve been here before, as Frank Poole twirls off into space and we cut to a close-up of the intense orange dot that is HAL’s one and only physical feature. [More here.]

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