All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace NEW ADAM CURTIS DOC

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (Ep. 2) - Full

A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the machines they have built. Although we don’t realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. It claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us.

1. Love and Power. This is the story of the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy.

2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. This is the story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components – cogs – in a system.

3. The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. (Not yet released). This episode looks at why we humans find this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed – so we have retreated into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure.

Adam Curtis is a documentary film maker, whose work includes The Power of Nightmares, The Century of the Self, The Mayfair Set, Pandora’s Box, The Trap and The Living Dead.


All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (Ep. 2) - Full

Interesting content, but chock full of nonsense

I found myself bewildered, and wondering about the agenda behind these videos. What are they really saying in suggesting that pretty much everything that has been happening is misguided and headed to catastrophe.

It seems to suggest that, because the world of people could not be self-organizing, we do need our authoritarian masters to run the world. It's one extreme or the other, right? It seems to deny the possibility of a "stable" self-organizing world, denying even that nature stabilizes itself as well as dynamically changing. They associate stability with the status quo and the current authoritarians in power. Yes, there is a contradiction.

The belief seems to be that, looking at nature, "there was no stable pattern". That's the opposite of the extreme that "nature is a stable pattern." But neither extreme is exactly right. The fact is that there are patterns, and the patterns are changing, and there are patterns in the changes, etc. Feedback systems typically result in chaotic patterns, not simple patterns. The "balance of nature" is not an illusion, but it is a different balance than some thought it was.

Just as global warming deniers can't comprehend our ability to estimate long term global climate even while day to day local weather seems very unpredictable, the same kind of thing happens in nature, with short-term chaotic changes averaging out in the long term. In fact, this video series seems to be coming from the same place that the global warming deniers reside, in a contradictory world of extremes, where the web of life is mutually exclusive of our individual volition, and only one extreme could be right, in their view. The real world is a mix of both extremes, where we all have an effect on the world, and the world affects each of us.

The videos do suggest the idea of "how humans have been colonized by the machines they have built". But this notion is clearly nonsense. If you know anything about how "the machines" work, you would know that it is people who build and program the machines that would be doing the colonizing, assuming there is any colonizing going on. But the machines are still way too stupid to be doing anything more than what we tell them. To believe otherwise is to deny that individual people do have any free will to think for themselves, and it is they who are giving control away to "the machines".

They seem to suggest that, because some people (i.e. the Club of Rome) used over-simplified computer models based on feedback systems of the major forces and resources in the world, that therefore they were trying to control the world based on what the computer was telling them. Nonsense.

The notion that the computers created the concept of the "ecosystem", which they believe is a false concept, is absurd nonsense in both claims. There was probably a thread of influence from our understanding of how to build machines on the more reductionist ideas of how the world seems very machine-like in some ways, but there are many other influences as well from every other field of study. To over-simplify the concept of "ecosystem' into purely reductionist nonsense, and consequently deny that there is any value at all in considering how nature behaves as a dynamic, complex self-organizing system, clear doesn't do it justice.

So what is the agenda behind all this? It seems somehow like a spiritual-libertarianism, a belief that everything larger than your family unit or small town is necessarily corrupt. But I can't quite tell what they are saying because it is so full of nonsense.