March 10, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
Technology is a fascinating thing. Some people regard technology as what distinguishes humanity from animals, and to some extent I can see the case for that notion. Technology has made us what we are today. People are quick to recognize that technology in the last few decades has shaped our cultural evolution extensively – allowing us to share ideas and beliefs and knowledge and products and services and whole cultures more rapidly and easily than ever before, but what we may fall shortsighted on is the fact that technology has, arguably for millennia, shaped us in a genetic, Darwinian way. As Moore’s Law and the Carlson Curves have plodded on, so too have we become increasingly (exponentially?) interactive, interdependent and truly infused with our creations. The line between man and machine has never been so faint, and today’s project is taking a closer look at just what that means for what’s left of the human side of all of us.
Welcome to the Machine is a documentary premiering at the SXSW Film Festival this year, exploring the nature of our complicated relationship with the machines we love, sometimes hate and always live with.
Typically, films about technology focus solely on specific inventions, scientists or discoveries. In the daily major media as well, most technology stories are really business stories or deal with novelty, glossing over any nuanced issues. It is with rare exception that a film engages the larger questions surrounding technology. However, quite the opposite is true of most people’s daily encounters and conversations. That is to say, every time we have a discussion about technology, be it artificial intelligence, cell phones or e-mail, the conversation invariably ends up being about ourselves – about what we value as people. And it is these values – be it choices, be it relationships, be it family – that are what make us human.
Avi Zed Weider has spent years digging through the wires, circuits and synthetics that have enhanced our organic existence to its modern state, for better or worse. Acknowledging that our creative capacity is a two-faced coin – one with the power to create; the other to destroy – Weider is peering into the intimacy we share with the children of our imaginations. The film draws upon the views of analysts and experts, but perhaps most fascinating is the stories of human beings literally living enhanced lives through technological integration. Like I said, the line continued to blur, and if we’re not watching, it might vanish altogether without our full acknowledgement. I happen to think it’ll be an event worth acknowledging, and if you agree, I hope you’ll join me in backing this project before March 22.