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Cognitive Enhancement, the Movie

Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star in Limitless, a paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unpublished writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret smart drug that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this darkly comic and provocative film.

The trailer sums up the entire absurd premise--a 20something's fantasy of easily obtained, surging brainpower, automatically, of course, followed by his exceptional decision-making, automatically, of course, followed by his fabulous wealth, easy girls, blah, blah, blah.... "Yo! Get DeNiro! we need a bankable hook for this Hollywood dreck. He'll grab a payday for absolutely any garbage coming down the pike nowadays".
Anyway, thanks for the warning. I'll pass on this cartoonish
I'm not sure I read any sort of viewing recommendation into the posted content. My sense was this is more of an example of: "Look how cognitive enhancement is getting prime time."
Agreed, Mr. Carlton. It's worth understanding how things like cognitive enhancement are being portrayed, if only to understand the forces that might be at work in any real-world ethical discussions pertaining to cognitive enhancement technology.
Yes, I wasn't recommending the film - I haven't seen it yet. Although I do like Cooper and de Niro as actors so I have high hopes. One of the IEET programs however is too track and critique the pernicious effect of biopolitical tropes in popular culture, and this film is certainly an example, as the "ad" and trailer illustrate: you can't have cognitive enhancement without addiction, memory-loss, paranoia and death. Which means we can never have safe cognitive enhancement. Popular culture is full of these Luddite tropes, which are understandable as simple-minded ways to drive drama, but end up having bad effects on biopolitics.
Also I have to call out the old "we only use x percent of our brains canard". This meme has to go. Clearly the filmmaker's intent was not to educate about neuroscience.
Will I agree with William H Carlton on the 'brain percentage use' trope, and agree with the jhughes on the problem of the common portrayal cognitive enhancement as fraught with awful, I can say (after the spoiler warning):


by the end of the movie Cooper's character has reverse-engineered the drug, gotten off it, and essentially left himself with the advantages it gave him but without any side-effects you see him deal with in the trailers. I guess that's the benefit of hellishly enhanced intelligence - if it's from a drug with side effects mild enough to function on, you can reverse-engineer the drug, iron out the bugs, make it something you take once and then can forget about. Personally I thought this movie was great for this. Of course, it begs the question: why didn't he just do this first without going through all the drama? But that's not how we open at #1 in the box office.


Well, I don't mind spoilers at all. These days audiences still expect to be surprised in the execution, even if they carry some foreknowledge into the viewing experience to being with. It's just unreasonable to expect not to encounter them.

I came back to this thread specifically after I saw that it had received positive comments from a transhumanist blog. The ending you describe does an excellent job illustrating the basic bootstrapping idea behind an intelligence explosion: the superhuman mind uses its superhuman intelligence to become a more superhuman intelligence.

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