DOXA Documentary Film Festival

Submitted by martha on April 18, 2013 – 4:54pm

Of special interest at this year’s DOXA Film Festival is:  Google and the World.

Ben Lewis, Spain/UK, 2012, 89 mins


In 2002, Google began to scan millions of books in an effort to create a giant global library. But even as authors whose copyrighted work was being scanned launched a campaign to stop Google in its tracks, the real intention of the project was being called into question.

In the early nineties, when one search engine seemed sufficient for this new fangled contraption called the World Wide Web, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both admitted that their long-term goal was for Google Search to become AI-complete, meaning the creation of a machine as intelligent as a human being. The notion that one corporation might control almost all of human knowledge is where things get a little dicey. Before you can say “Holy Singularity!” it gets stranger still. The idea of technology outstripping human intelligence has long been the purview of speculative fiction. Fittingly enough, Lewis’s film begins and ends with two very different statements about the future from none other than H.G. Wells.

In 1938, H.G. Wells prophesized the future of something he called The World Brain, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Internet. Ben Lewis’s film is chock full of information, interviews and startling facts, but the people whose business it is to collect and organize information provide some of the most sanguine statements here. Jean-Noel Jeanneney, of France’s National Library, is especially deliciously rancorous. As we get closer to developing a near-omniscient form of artificial intelligence, can companies like Facebook and Google really be trusted to direct such staggering changes in human communication? With the future of all human knowledge in the control of an organization that promises to do no evil, isn’t this where all science fiction dystopias begin? –DW

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