A woman grapples with the existential implications of a new AI technology, her mother’s death, and the blurring boundaries between the physical and digital, life and death.
Crossing Acheron is a sci-fi short film written and produced during the darkest months of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The film imagines a world in which there is a plague, yes, but it is more interested in how a new technology—the ability to upload a consciousness to the cloud—changes us in a truly existential sense. What does it mean to be “alive” when life can exist in either the physical or digital realms? Is death real in those circumstances? And when physical existence becomes a preference rather than a requirement, on what basis do we make that choice?
The story itself is about one woman’s choice when faced by this new technology. Regarding that technology: It may seem like pure fantasy or something from the distant future, but it’s not hard to imagine one of today’s tech giants (Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google) launching a similar product next week. Indeed, Elon Musk has been interested in human brain interfaces for years, and Silicon Valley spiritualist and inventor Ray Kurzweil has long predicted that the Singularity—the moment he believes we will merge with machines—is just a few years away. Put simply, there are real people who believe that this scenario is not fantasy, rather, that it is imminent. That puts it on us to begin thinking about how we will interact with such a technology.