Google or Wikipedia? Those of us who search online are getting referred more and more to Wikipedia. For the past two years, this free online “encyclopaedia of the people” has been topping the lists of the world’s most popular websites. But do we really know what we’re using? The Truth According To Wikipedia plunges into the story behind Wikipedia and explores the powerful world of ‘Web 2.0’ — Is it a revolution, or pure hype?
“Quants” are the mathematicians, software developers and computer programmers at the centre of the global economy. These are the people who designed the “complex financial products” that caused the financial crisis of 2008. Here they speak openly about their game of huge profits, and how the global economy has become increasingly dependent on mathematical models that quantify commodified human behaviours to the point of insanity. But things don’t stop there. Through the convergence of economy and technology, the Quants have now brought this model into the world of the machines, where trades are done at the speed of light, far from the realm of human experience. The machines are in charge. Some Quants are even now worried. What are the risks of this complex machine? Will the Quants be able to keep control of this financial system, or have they created a monster?
Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet is a documentary series written and hosted by Mark Stephens under the pseudonym Robert X. Cringely as a sequel to Triumph of the Nerds. The series follows on by documenting the development of ARPANET, the Internet, the World Wide Web and the resulting dot-com bubble of the mid and late 1990s…
Within a single generation, digital media, the Internet and the World Wide Web have transformed virtually every aspect of modern culture, from the way we learn and work to the ways in which we socialise and even conduct war. But is technology moving faster than we can adapt to it? Is our constantly-wired-world causing us to lose as much as we’ve apparently gained? In Digital Nation, Douglas Rushkoff and Rachel Dretzin explore what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world…
Kevin Warwick is a renowned researcher in the precarious field of cybernetics, the study of ‘artificial intelligence,’ human-control functions, robotics and so-called “cybernetic organisms.” His work, as self presented here, shows how implant and electrode technology can be used to control human brain functions, to create biological brains for robots, to enable so-called “human enhancement” and treatment for neurological illnesses. The end goal is transcending human “limitations” or transhumanism, according to Warwick, which inevitably stirs up many social, ethical and practical questions. What are the implications of this work, and this world view?
20 years on from the invention of the World Wide Web, The Virtual Revolution explores how the Internet is reshaping almost every aspect of our lives. But what is really going on behind this reshaping? The inventor of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, believed his invention would remain an open frontier that nobody could own, and that it would take power from the few and give it to the many. So how do these utopian claims stand up to today?
A group of graduate journalism students from the University of British Columbia travel to the outskirts of Ghana as part of a global investigation tracking the shadowy industry of e-waste that’s causing big environmental problems around the world. Their guide is a 13-year-old boy named Alex. He shows them his home, a small room in a mass of shanty dwellings, and offers to take them across the dead river—which is literally dead—to a notorious area called Agbogbloshie which is one of the world’s unseen e-waste dumping grounds. Hundreds of millions of tons of waste are funnelled here each year, with more to come as the consumer boom of computers and gadgets increases across the globe—unless drastic action changes the flow of waste and addresses the terrible conditions many have to endure for the technocracy of the West.
September 11 has indelibly altered the world in ways that people are now starting to earnestly question: not only perpetual orange alerts, barricades and body frisks at the airport, but greater government scrutiny of people’s records and electronic surveillance of their communications. The US National Security Agency (NSA) has engaged in wiretapping and the sifting of Internet communications of millions of people worldwide, including their own…
Film-maker Brett Gaylor explores the issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers. The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk—a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy?
The Quantum Revolution spouts claims of turning many ideas of science fiction into science fact—from materials with mind-boggling properties like invisibility through to so-called “limitless quantum energy” and room temperature superconductors, to a space elevator for tourism. Are such developments worthwhile, sustainable, equitable or even necessary? Scientists forecast that in the latter half of the century everybody will have a personal matter fabricator that “re-arranges molecules to produce everything from almost anything.” Yet how will those in power ultimately use the domination of matter and life on Earth? How is science already doing this and to what ends? What are the unasked questions about science itself and the desire to control the very fabric of the universe? What insanity are we up against?
Nanotechnology has the potential to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications — such as in medicine, electronics or energy production for example. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as with any introduction of new technology, including concerns about toxicity and the impact on the environment. The difference in this case being that nanomaterials are in use in products and industry right now and these concerns are seemingly going unaddressed…
Every day, escalating technologies are being used to monitor all of us as populations with unprecedented scrutiny—from driving habits to workplace surveillance, as shoppers, as consumers, as citizens. We are all increasingly being observed and analysed. Internet searches are monitored and used as evidence in court, the police track our movements on the road, governments collect our DNA, fingerprints and iris scans, corporations assemble huge databases for profiling and selling data, while governments collude with such lucrative businesses—for example, Acxiom, Lexis Nexis and ChoicePoint—to gain access to vast volumes of information about people and the machinations of modern society. What will it take for us to stop this system before it boils over into a full-blown technocratic authoritarian regime?
For Your Eyes Only? reports on the existence of a secret government program that intercepts millions of e-mails each day in the name of ‘terrorist surveillance’. News about the program came to light when a former AT&T employee, Mark Klein, blew the whistle on a large-scale installation of secret Internet monitoring equipment deep inside AT&T’s San Francisco office. The equipment was installed at the request of the United States government to spy on all e-mail traffic across the entire Internet. Though the government and AT&T refuse to address the issue directly, Klein backs up his charges with internal company documents and personal photos…
Filmed over three years, Hacking Democracy documents a group of American citizens investigating anomalies and irregularities with the electronic voting systems used during the 2000 and 2004 US Presidential elections. The investigation revolves around the flawed integrity and security of the machines, particularly those made by the Diebold corporation. Could the elections have been rigged?
This short film, put together by activists, documents the extreme proliferation of e-waste throughout Asia. The effects of the waste is catastrophic, as computers and electronics contain some of the most hazardous materials—cadmium, barium, plastics, mercury, lead, Brominated Flame Retardants and dioxins. Working at the nexus of human rights and environment, this film confronts the issues of environmental justice at a macro level, by provoking the need to stop this trade and address the issues. With over 80% of e-waste coming from the United States alone being exported throughout Asia, the problem is only to increase unless things change, especially in the age of planned obsolescence and consumer ‘upgrades.’
Unprecedented looks at voting irregularities in the controversial presidential election in the United States from the year 2000. With a focus on the swing state of Florida, the recount, the ensuing supreme court decision in December, and future elections; the film also shows how fundamentally, many people—the majority being African-American—have outright been refused the ability to vote by a clever mix of legalese, electronic voting machines, political maneuvering and simple racism. A 1868 law prevented felons from voting—originally crafted to keep blacks from the polls in the wake of the Civil War—was resurrected in 2000, used to create a computerised list of people supposedly illegible to vote. The list had weird parameters and included as many as 57,000 to 91,000 non-felons; overwhelmingly targeting people of colour. On election day, these people were turned away at the polls. The role of electronic voting machines is also examined, as they are totally unaccountable and do not allow audits. The argument is made because of copyright over the software and trademarks. The machines also do not give paper receipts, so there is no physical evidence in case of the need for a recount. How does the United States—the so-called and self-proclaimed world-famous democracy—fair as one in light of this?
At the time of making this film, the year 2000, computer games represented a $6 billion a year industry, and one out of every ten households in the United States owned a Sony Playstation—numbers that have no-doubt since skyrocketed. Back then, children played an average of ten hours per week—a stat also since to have increased today—and yet, despite capturing the attention of millions of these kids, video games remain one of the least scrutinized cultural industries. Game Over seeks to address this fastest growing segment of the media, through engaging questions of gender, race and violence. Game Over offers a much needed dialogue about the complex and controversial topic of video game violence, and is designed to encourage viewers to think critically about the games they play.