Passengers

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Passengers is a 2016 film set on an interstellar spaceship transporting 5000 passengers in suspended animation to a new planet.

Plot

A small number of passengers are awoken from their suspended animation whilst their destination is still 90 years travel distant. They are forced to adapt to an environment in which it is likely they will die of old age whilst still in transit. When it becomes clear that the spaceship is experiencing some malfunctioning, this prompts the passengers to reconsider their roles and destiny.

Transhumanist elements

  • The suspended animation of passengers has similarities with cryopreservation, except that there is no indication that low temperatures are involved
  • It is implied that the task of awakening someone from suspended animation is harder than the task of suspending them in the first place - this is in contrast with current cryonics thinking (but it adds extra tension to the plot)
  • The spaceship has an infirmary containing a bed-like unit with numerous advanced diagnostic and restorative functions - but, apparently, with no ability to rejuvenate elderly passengers to a more youthful state
  • The passengers are accompanied by a human-like android robot bartender, who misses one of the nuances of human interaction and thereby unwittingly(?) precipitates a social crisis on board the ship
  • The spaceship is serviced by numerous small robots that perform tasks such as cleaning; there are also holographic displays of guides and lecturers
  • The software operating the spaceship has the built-in assumption that it is impossible for passengers to awaken mid-journey, so it seemingly fails to know how to deal with this circumstance

Evaluation

  • The plot is unusual and holds viewer attention
  • The technological background provides the setting for a troubling ethical development: how should one passenger respond on learning that she has deliberately been woken early by another passenger, to be a romantic companion, even though this will mean she will likely die before reaching her intended destination?[1]
  • The fate of the 5,000 suspended passengers turns out to depend on heroic actions of the few passengers who are awake. This can be seen as a metaphor for the large responsibilities of the small proportion of human society who are aware of the opportunities of a transhumanist future.[2]

External links

References