Humans have come a long way since their inception as one of the most advanced species on Earth and MAYBE the universe. Language is one of those things that has established itself with humanity all these years and helped humanity evolve through time and vice versa. Humans needed a language to evolve and hence some out of the world thinkers created sounds and codes to interact with others. The ones which became popular helped humanity forge ahead in the future and become more and more powerful and advanced with respect to themselves and every other species in existence. So much so that we are the only ones who can be self-aware that we are going to die someday and go extinct and hence we need to take certain measures to flourish ourselves in this galaxy and if possible, the whole universe.
The only thing which has helped humans evolve through time prominently is language. For example, producing voices to coordinate an attack in the stone age to hunt for food. Or maintaining world peace and globalization by adopting English as an international (not universal) language. But don’t you think that if English was the last of languages which helped humanity achieve globalization, we need a deeper language to advance in the galaxy. English was adapted to create a simple yet dynamic style. Now, a language helps you express your emotion to the world and English a pretty versatile language. It doesn’t have the complexity to express every emotion in a single word but considering its simplicity its influence in the world is no surprise.
Take the USA for example. The very fact that its first official language is English helps people from all over the world understand its motives and goals in a better way than any other country. The UK is also another place but they have a very strict immigration policy, in fact, it is close to impossible to settle there unless some miracle happens. So, due to the open policy and English, US became the most preferable place to look up to interact and collaborate with leaders and enthusiasts and idealists from all over the world. Together, they were able to make one of the most advanced civilization.
But, here comes a catch …
English is a language written on paper. On reviewing the basics, we can pretty much say that it contains rules to follow. In fact, the English accent varies so vastly from region to region that even if the content is understandable, it takes time for the underlying emotions to be absorbed. For example, just to understand the Hollywood accent and their sense of humor, I had to experience quite a big catalog of TV series and still couldn’t get all the humor in the Big Bang Theory. But, when they show it through their facial expressions, it becomes much clear and hence it is most difficult to read Sheldon out of all as he shows the least expressions of all; kind of his character.
What we should understand here is that in order to make ourselves flourish in the galaxy, we need to make a unique language governed by emotions. Emotions are the only elements humanity has that can transcend time. Emotions have been constant in the thousands of years of evolution, only the number of ways to express it have increased over time with the advent of technology. Here, we need to consider two things that can purely convert our emotions to language.
The first thing considered is that of data. We need to make a breakthrough in language that can convey any amount of data at the maximum compressed size. Take a photo, for example, taken by a 13 MP camera. There is no way that the size will drift to double digit in megabytes. But the emotions can vary from a mere “delightful” morning to a random city with people portraying all types of emotions from being “gloomy” to “happy” to “anxious” and so on. This breakthrough will help us push large amounts of data in small packets across the galaxy.
The next thing to consider is time itself. Even after achieving light speed and accuracy in communication with lasers, the amount of time taken for information to reach Earth from Mars is 20 minutes. If a language can be so much intertwined with emotion that anybody who sees it even in bits can get its essence in the right direction, that is the perfect tool for collaborating from far away in the ocean of planets. Think about how many times your mother has been correct about what is going through your mind. Is she some sort of God? Or does she understand your emotions like nobody else?
ARRIVAL is one of those movies that redefines the depth to which a movie can be made. It is one of those masterpieces where the movie starts on with a dull atmosphere and the invasion of aliens, engaging you in the movie with the perception of a dystopian theme but totally changes its theme in the initial stage of the story. The movie beautifully transcends your brain about the relationship of language with humans. So much so that people got flabbergasted after getting the essence of the movie in the right way and were so happy to know that something as basic as language has a work of art hidden in it.
The movie starts with an insight of Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) personal life. Human activities are halted due to the invasion of extra-terrestrial creatures on planet Earth. Dr. Louise Banks is a linguistic expert and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) a mathematician who are recruited by U.S. Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to make contact on one of the spaceships that is hovering/landed (who knows their technology of landing) in Montana, so that they can make a successful contact with the aliens to find out what is their purpose visiting them. The movie is more about Dr. Louise’s character building and the visuals. So much of the movie rest on the visuals. It is a slow-paced movie and the ones who love looking out for good cinematography in movies conveying a lot of information will love it.
Communication is the one thing that can become the biggest barrier to establishing mutual relationship and understanding. Dr. Louise Banks sets the tone to find a breakthrough in that and stop any war or misunderstanding that is about to stir up. She embarks on a mission to unfold the mysteries of the alien invasion by learning their language and at the same time showing her relationship with others through the beauty of language. Drawings that convey the daughter’s love to her mother, kisses that convey the mother’s love to her daughter and so on. The movie shows the use of Artificial Intelligence to decode the mysterious language of aliens. The language shown is half artwork and half technology, the perfect recipe to forge ahead into the abyss. The movie reveals in a way that our language is linear and hence we perceive time as linear too. But that is not the case with the language of those who have arrived.
The director of the movie Dennis Villeneuve takes the theory of language helping people evolve with time as a by-product of adaptation and not as something which evolved as a result of other evolutionary processes as theorized by Noam Chomsky. Well, the first theory is stronger because nothing happens naturally unless it’s inbuilt. The Morse code was made because it was needed.Hence, do we need a new language that can transcend time and space just like emotions do? The answer is “YES”. Here machine learning and AI come into play to perfect this process and inscribe a language that is inspired by art and has the power to convey emotions to people. Arrival shows how communication is one of those ways that helps us live in a symphony of emotions. Every object has a language to tell its story.
The ending of the movie reiterates the flashbacks Dr. Louise gets from time to time and make us think what we would do once we get hold of a power like this, the language which is also referred as weapons by the aliens. Overall the movie came with a purpose and the purpose was fulfilled. Language is something which keeps evolving over time to better convey our emotions and make us more advanced as humans. In order to become one of the greatest species in the universe, it’s our sense of communication which needs to improve over time.