Linklater's "Boyhood" and Transhumanism

“We’re already biologically programmed for our little cyborg upgrade...”

Excerpts of dialogue from the film
directed by Richard Linklater

In this scene (02:00:56-02:03:05) actor Ellar Coltrane reads dialogue he wrote himself about the transformation of human beings into cyborgs. A warning that this would happen was given in 1998 (though not published until 2014) here.

Here is an excerpt from the scene:

MASON JR: ...I finally figured it out. It’s, like, when they realized it was going to be too expensive to actually build cyborgs and robots – I mean, the costs of that were impossible – they decided to just let humans turn themselves into robots. That’s what’s going on right now.

SHEENA: Oh, right now?

MASON JR: Yeah. I mean, why not? There are billions of us just laying around not really doing anything. We don’t cost anything, and we’re even pretty good at self-maintenance and reproducing constantly. And, as it turns out, we’re already biologically programmed for our little cyborg upgrade.


MASON JR: Seriously. I read this thing the other day about how, like, when you hear that ding on your inbox you get a, like, a dopamine rush in your brain. It’s like we’re being chemically rewarded for allowing ourselves to be brainwashed. How evil is that? We’re fucked.

...Here is an excerpt from the 1998 interview that is directly related to Mason’s (i.e. Ellar Coltrane’s) idea:

“The [elite] looked at the plan that made the transcending (i.e. transhumanist) technologies available to everyone from two angles: one, if the technology could be introduced at birth, it would mitigate the cost issues of health care and education, offsetting diffusion costs. But it would have to be a government implemented service. No private company could secure sufficient trust. So a critical component was to make the United Nations the credible world organization that could introduce transhumanism to the global stage.

“The second angle was to allow class distinctions and free markets to eventually make the technology irresistible to everyone, and then allow government subsidies to bring down the costs sufficiently to enable its dispersion.

“All of this sounds very altruistic, but the quality of the technologies would be variant. Elite classes would be able to secure higher quality implantations coupled to more responsive genetics. This would simply be a human civilization that would be attempting to purge discontent and disobedience, in favor of participation in a ruled system of government by elite transhumans.

“Technology will evolve from external-impersonal, to external-personal, to integrated-personal (miniaturization of the technology will enable it to adorn the body; it will not be internal yet, but it is part of the human body, like clothing, glasses, watches, and jewelry), to internal-personal. 

"Transhumanism is the last phase, and it is the phase that the elite are moving to. The internal-personal is based on exactly the same paradigm of what is now the human condition—namely, humans have a programmed interface that’s integral to their human body, and is powered by the infinite source of which they truly are.

“Humanity will play God to itself. It will try to engineer a better human and a better civilization.

“It will do this because it can’t imagine how humanity can save itself through simple behaviors and the realization that these behaviors can make. They will do it because they are programmed to become integrated with technology. This is the path [some] seek to avert. They write that human beings are complete if they can step out of their consciousness frameworks and realize what is actually powering their systems, their artificial realities, their programmed existence. The integration of technology internally will only make this realization more difficult.”

The scene continues...

SHEENA: So you deleting your Facebook page is going to change all that? Remember when Trevor deleted his Facebook page last year? And everyone just hated him? You made more fun of him than anyone.

MASON JR: I still make fun of Trevor though.

SHEENA: It was like he was so pathetically desperate for attention. He wanted to be different, or something.

MASON JR: That’s just because they did that lame story about him in the school paper.

SHEENA: And then he had to make a big announcement about it when he came back a month later.

MASON JR: That’s the thing, though. I’m not doing it for attention. I just want to try and not live my life through a screen. I want, like, some kind of actual interaction. A real person, not just the profile they put up.

SHEENA: Oh, I’m sorry. Were you saying something?

MASON JR: Yeah, okay. I know you’re joking, but it’s kind of true. You have been, you know, checking your phone this whole time. I mean, so what are you really doing? You don’t care what your friends are up to on Saturday afternoon, but you’re also obviously not fully experiencing my profound bitching. So, it’s like everyone’s just stuck in, like, in in-between state, not really experiencing anything.

SHEENA: It’s not an experience. It’s just information.

In this next scene Ellar Coltrane’s character talks about how the information the NSA possesses on us can be used to predict our preferences:


MASON JR: Isn’t that kinda crazy, though, that a computer knows who you are from just twenty questions off a form? I guess there are really only, like, eight types of people in the world. I mean there are subsets like male and female, but apparently we’re not as unique as we want to think we are.

OLIVIA: Have you even talked to this guy yet?

MASON JR: No, but we’ve been trading emails. He seems pretty cool. He’s studying literature and anthropology and he’s way into Bright Eyes so that’s not so bad. But, anyways, he was telling me about how the system they use for assigning roommates is kinda spooky, like, the freshman satisfaction rate for new roommates used to be, like, 60%, and now it’s a hundred. Just ‘cause of the computer.

OLIVIA: Well, sounds like he’ll be a good roommate then.

MASON JR: Yeah. But we’ve pretty much decided that soon they won’t even need a questionnaire. ‘Cause they’ll just let the NSA scan your digital ghost and they’ll tell you who your roommate is based on everything you’ve ever said, written or clicked.

Here is the last, reality-affirming, dialogue in the film:

NICOLE: You know how everyone’s always saying, “Seize the moment”? I don’t know. I’m kinda thinking it’s the other way around. You know, like, the moment seizes us.

MASON JR: Yeah. Yeah, I know. It’’s constant. The moments. It’s’s like it’s always right now. You know?


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