Singularity Film and TV: the Non-Definitive Rolling Stub


In a 1993 article “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to survive in the posthuman era”  Vernor Vinge argued that the invention of a technology for creating entities with superhuman intelligence could lead to the end of human dominion over the planet and the beginning of a “post-human” era dominated by intelligences vastly greater than ours. According to Vinge, this point could be reached via recursive improvements in the technology. If humans or  human-equivalent intelligences could use the technology to create superhuman intelligences the resultant entities could make even more intelligent entities, and so on. . . . A technology for intelligence creation or intelligence amplification would thus constitute a singular point or “singularity” beyond which the level of mentation on this planet might accelerate beyond the cognitive horizons of flat-brained humanz.

The “posthuman” minds that would result from this “intelligence explosion” could be so vast, according to Vinge, that our predictive models could have no application to a post-singularity world. Yet some film and television makers have dared look beyond the singularity to imagine the consequences of radical cognitive enhancement. But which ones? The aim of this post is to establish a definitive list of post-singularity TV and Film and I need you to help me complete it. Are there tramp episodes of your favourite SF serial or anthology series, or some visionary movie that I’ve missed? Do tell.

You can see from the list that I’m construing “post-singularity entity” pretty liberally: brains in vats, cyborgs, rogue computers – any speculative technology which produces a synthetic minded being qualifies.

This is pursuant to my article on this topic for the forthcoming  Palgrave Macmillan, Handbook of Posthumanism in Film and Television (Eds. Michael Hauskeller, Thomas D. Philbeck, Curtis Carbonell). Usable additions will receive uploaded immortality on my Acer drive and a nod in Acknowledgements!


Metropolis (1927, Dir. Fritz Lang)

Donovan’s Brain (1953, Dir Felix E. Feist)

La Jetée (1962, Dir. Chris Marker)

The Forbin Project (1970, Dir Joseph Sargent)

Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965, Dir Jean-Luc Godard)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Dir Stanely Kubick)

Demon Seed (1977, Dir Donald Cammel)

Blade Runner (1982, Dir Ridely Scott)

Alien (1979, Dir Ridely Scott)

The Terminator, (1984, Dir James Cameron)

Robocop, (1987, Paul Verhoeven)

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991, James Cameron)

The Matrix (1999, Andy and Lana Wachowski)


Dr Who, “Tenth Planet” (1966, Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis)

Doomwatch, “In the Dark” (1971, Gerry Davies, John Gould)

Dr Who, “Genesis of the Daleks” (1975, “Terry Nation”)

World on a Wire [Welt am Draht] (1973, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

Twilight Zone?

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Q Who?” (1989 Maurice Hurley); 1, “The Best of Both Worlds parts I and II”,  (1990, Michael Piller)

Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Elementary, Dear Data” (1993, Brian Allan Lane)

Battlestar Galactica (2004, Ronald D. MooreDavid Eick)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008, Josh Friedman)

Caprica (2010,  Remi AubuchonDavid EickRonald D. Moore)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s