A voice off-screen is starting a long interrogation, addressing its speech to a «you». It needs a little time to understand that this YOU is mankind itself, and the speaker is a robot. At least this is what is suggested by the subtitle of Danish director Jeppe Rønde´s highly reflective documentary Almost Human: Notes on the Human Condition by 10 Scientists and a Robot, presented at the Krakow Film Festival 2020.
Robot knowledge has an uncomfortable characteristic, that everything is simultaneously present. So no wonder, if the voice is leading us to quite different places, as in the Antarctic to a place called Qaanaaq, where Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein finds one of its settings.
«You» can be Mary Shelley but also the creator of a multi-layered wax figurine called «Venus» in Florence, which shows details of the human body interiors in strong colours, placed nearby to the other, Bottichelli´s «Venus», which is the starting point of a reflection regarding «Stendhal Syndrome», referring to Stendhal´s experience in Florence´s Basilica of Santa Croce, where he got overwhelmed by the beauty of the artworks to such an intensity that, in his words: «Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.» Then we enter into different scientific laboratories. Finally, in the panoptical view, we start to grasp that the leading line of all these reminders is the interference between humanity and robotics loaded with artificial intelligence.
General reflections about mankind’s impossible return-to-nature state help build some introductory notes. Technology is not an instrument anymore, it transforms humanity by itself. The technosphere isn’t self-generating or self-developing like the biosphere, but just endlessly progressing.
Parallel worlds. Parallel truths
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