Tue. May 30th, 2023
Dr.  Leonard Kleinrock is a co-creator of ARPANET, the direct predecessor of the Internet.
Enlarge / Dr. Leonard Kleinrock is a co-creator of ARPANET, the direct predecessor of the Internet.

Hackers? To check. Self-driving cars? To check. SpaceX? To check. robots? To check. Elon Musk? To check. ARPANET? To check. Addicted to video games? To check. Brain scans? To check. Internet of things? To check. The only thing we’re missing is a Fitbit review. Lo and Behold: musings of the connected world is practical Ars Technica: the moviewith Werner Herzog as our guide.

You know filmmaker Werner Herzog, right? He is not only famous for making movies, but also for being crazy. From the 1960s, our crazy Bavarian genius has penetrated our hearts like a man possessed by stealing equipment, forging permits, getting shot during an interview, regularly endangering his cast and crew and taking a 19th-century riverboat across. to drag a mountain. Even if you’ve never seen any of Herzog’s films, chances are you’ve heard someone parody him, calmly and precisely voicing how the universe is chaos, penguins go insane, and forests are full of misery. And Herzog isn’t above making fun of his own image, such as his appearances on The Simpsons, American father, Rick and Morty (NSFW), and The Boondocks (NSFW) can testify.

Herzog tends to make documentaries about lunatics that he watches with equal parts admiration and bewilderment. The title character of Grizzly man thought he could live with bears while My dear devil is about actor Klaus Kinski, who starred in five of Herzog’s most acclaimed films, even though Herzog thought he was a “pestilence” who should have been killed. Through interviews and archive footage, Lo and behold adheres to this template and confronts the strangest madman of them all: the internet. Herzog never anthropomorphizes the internet, instead seeing it as capable of one day…well, something. I can’t finish that sentence without the thing that’s the potential of the internet.

Lo and behold is divided into 10 chapters with names like ‘The Early Days’, ‘The Glory of the Net’ and ‘The Future’. Despite some Wagner on the soundtrack and a snide remark about an ugly hallway, the movie starts off as a more or less straightforward report on how the internet came to be. Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, a co-creator of ARPANET, bangs like a maniac on an early machine, while Bob Kahn talks about inventing some of the Internet’s core protocols.

Somewhere along the way, among all the hackers, roboticists, security analysts, cosmologists, brain researchers and astronomers, Lo and behold becomes darkly comical. Herzog likes to hold his camera on his subjects long enough for obsession to sparkle in their eyes, and an engineer doesn’t have to prod long to confess that he loves his soccer-playing robot. The dark side of the internet – people struggling with video game addiction and online humiliation – should come as no surprise. But what makes Lo and behold more troubling is that we have no idea what an internet-driven future might look like.

With this in mind, it makes sense for Herzog to be more subdued than usual during Lo and behold. The bizarre running commentary he usually uses to accompany his interviews with misfits and eccentrics is relatively spartan, as if Herzog can’t hold his head in the future the internet will create. Herzog is normally shown a subject’s life in totality (the subjects of Grizzly man, My dear deviland In the abyss died before or during filming). But a future fundamentally built around electronic interconnections won’t easily survive it. It’s immortal.

“Nobody ever gets the future right,” cosmologist Lawrence Krauss tells Herzog. We never got our flying cars and moon bases – we got the World Wide Web instead. The future is daunting because it’s something we haven’t thought about yet. It’s not going to be a utopian interplanetary society of jetpacks, but it’s not going to be either The hunger Games or. Even someone saying “we’re all going to hell in a hand basket!” tries to put the future in a tidy box. So it says a lot that Herzog, a filmmaker who once threatened his protagonist with a gun and ate his own shoe on a bet, can’t decide where we go next.

Lo and Behold: musings of the connected world is now in theaters, on-demand, on Amazon Video and on iTunes. Interviewees include hacker Kevin Mitnick, roboticist Sebastian Thrun, cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, computer scientist Adrien Treuille, astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz, and Ars’ collective man-crush, Elon Musk. Watch the trailer here.

By akfire1

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