Mike At The Movies

January 14th, 2017 by Michael Tabor

Lo And Behold – Reveries of The Connected World Related image

I’ve done movie reviews before here on this blog however this will be the first (of hopefully many) under the rubric of Mike at The Movies.

“…this is ground zero of one of the biggest revolutions we as humans are experiencing.” This extraordinary documentary begins with this voiceover of Werner Herzog who is referring to the birth of the internet at UCLA  on Oct. 29,1969 = 10:30 pm where the first message was sent to Stanford University. That message was supposed to be a simple command LOG ON but the computer crashed after only typing LO hence the title of this film – Lo and Behold –a powerful and prophetic message indeed.

Social media, FMRIs, smart phones, , virtual reality…etc. How did we get here? It all starts with the very early days of the internet. We see a woman broadcasting the news ‘Imagine sitting down and having a cup of coffee while reading the morning paper on the computer…” Yep the very idea of this scenario 1969 seemed like science fiction. Those days were what we basically call prehistory of the information explosion. Herzog makes a comparison that seems utterly mind – boggling – that of those early days and today in which he states that if you collected the worldwide data flow for one single day and you put that information on CDs and stacked them, the pile would reach up to Mars and back. What? Is this hyperbole?   Well perhaps, it is after all a Werner Herzog documentary (he also made ‘Grizzly Man) he’s pretty goofy and eccentric and whether or not this statement is 100% factual or an exaggeration, he definitely meant to mean an unfathomably large number. Here there is a tracking shot following the central processing units of the internet that seem to never end – infinite. POWERFUL !

The first 30 minutes of the film are sort of dry and technical but hang in there – believe me it gets better and a lot more interesting. The dark side is explored with the story of Nikki “the Porsche girl.” This is an unimaginably disturbing true account of an 18-year-old girl who after an argument with her father speeds off with his Porsche and ends up crashing it into a stonewall at the toll gate. The girl is killed instantly – her head nearly decapitated. This is just the start of a bizarre and twisted nightmare for the family = the mother, the father and her siblings thanks to an unscrupulous cop and the internet. I won’t spoil it here but what happens after her death is so unspeakably horrible that it’s hard not to give some credence to what mom says about the world wide web being a manifestation of evil and the Anti-Christ.

Herzog also shows other examples of the dark side of technology including: people who are forced to live in seclusion because of an inability to block out waves, frequencies, and signals from cell towers. Young people who are addicted to video games (gamers in S. Korea wear diapers so they don’t have to step away and stop playing to go to the bathroom, playing 40,50,60 hours a clip), people of all ages addicted to pornography, social media, and everything else the internet has to offer. Herzog then ponders what would happen if we were cut off from technology by some natural disaster – like a hurricane Sandy but worldwide. What if there were a solar flare that knocked out the internet? Could we as a species survive? Would this be the undoing of civilization? You might say – well, yes of course we’ll survive and get through this but you’ll be surprised to hear what experts have to say. It’s not good news, We are too reliant on technology.

Herzog visits a hackers convention in Las Vegas, defcon, where the FBI, CIA, the Chinese Secret Service, nerds around the world, etc. gather to share and trade secrets and the state of the art technology. Kevin Mitnick, the world’s greatest hacker, will be in attendance. Find out his tricks. You’ll be shocked to see what’s coming.

The documentary unpacks the good and promising aspects of technology i.e. advances in medicine the eradication of cancer, etc. And, it also serves as a caveat for the unintended consequences of the information revolution. For every step forward there may be 2 steps back. Herzog interviews someone who works at cyber security for a firm Sandia Research Laboratory. It’s pretty scary to find out that this company which is a repository for research & development and logistics in the areas of solar energy, nuclear weapons, cyber security, banking, space exploration and more was recently hacked. Yep, 100s of institutions were or could have been compromised by these hacks (classified as Titan Rain) including NASA, defense, the industrial military complex and several major financial institutions.

There is so much more here in this film. It’s an absolute MUST-see. Anyone the least bit concerned with rising technology and our future will gain some insight. Some of the major players in technology and AI such as Elan Musk voice their positions, worries, hopes,etc. SO WhaDaYaThink ? Lo and Behold can now be streamed from Netflix. Enjoy and hold on!


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