Until Death Do Us Part and They Upload Us Into Clones: An Analysis of Film Narratives About Mind Uploading and the Myth of Immortality

  • Anja Zlatović PhD Candidate at Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
Keywords:
mind uploading, fear of death, myth of immortality, technology, popular culture, film

Abstract

The fear of death and the myth of immortality are themes long present in various narratives, whether literary or visual. Science fiction as a genre offers us many venues for new explorations of this idea. Mind uploading is one of them. This fictional technique, related to cloning, is performed when the mind and consciousness of a person are transferred to another biological body or machine with the help of technology. In this way, a person continues their social life through their brain functions. This paper looks at four separate recent screen narratives – the movies Self/less, Transcendence, and Replicas, and the episode “Be Right Back” of the TV show Black Mirror. With the help of Tzvetan Todorov’s structural analysis, we find clauses that are present in all of the plots and see what ideas and topics they share. The paper also uses the idea of anthropological reading of science fiction and therefore uses scientific research to analyze these themes. By looking at anthropological findings of immortality, mortality, death in modern society, and digital techniques, we see how the analyzed narratives portray a unique mixture of fear of and longing for all the mentioned processes and ideas. Finally, this paper shows how science fiction could possibly reflect reality – both through presenting thoughts of society and inspiring future technological advances and ideas (in this case, the quest for immortality). While humans are still far from achieving eternal life, the mentioned screen narratives portray the growing stream of ideas that deal with mind uploading in the age of the internet and social media.  

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Published
2021-07-19
How to Cite
Zlatović, Anja. 2021. “Until Death Do Us Part and They Upload Us Into Clones: An Analysis of Film Narratives About Mind Uploading and the Myth of Immortality”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (2), 529–548. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v16i2.9.