Avi Zev Weider | Film Welcome to the Machine to premiere, Ray Kurzweil and Jaron Lanier featured

March 8, 2012

The Hollywood Reporter | In Welcome to the Machine, Avi Zev Weider uses the occasion of the birth of his triplets to take a look at how technology intermingles with and affects our humanness. The SXSW competition documentary will have its world premiere Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Ray Kurzweil and Jaron Lanier, who are both featured in the film, will participate in panels during the SXSW Interactive festival running concurrent with the film portion.

Additionally, see the extended trailer here.

Welcome to the Machine | Synopsis: After three years of trying to have a child, filmmaker Avi Zev Weider and his wife Alexandra tried IVF and immediately became pregnant — with triplets.

In grappling with this life-changing experience, it was evident that technology was having a real affect on Avi’s life; his babies were conceived via a technical process, born in a high-tech neo-natal intensive care unit and kept alive inside a series of machines. In short, Avi’s children came into this world and were made viable thanks to technology. But beyond that, the way in which Avi found himself relating to his newborn children — even this was colored by a relationship to technology. And so, much bigger questions, ones difficult to even formulate, loomed large as the triplets came home.

In seeking to clarify these questions, and deal with his new and difficult reality, the filmmaker engages futurists, scientists, scholars, anti-technology advocates and even Ted Kaczynski, aka the “Unabomber,” to uncover a big-picture view of our ongoing relationship to technology. These interviews explore issues like:

What is the origin of technology?
Is technology “neutral” or does is have an “intent?”
In a world of high technology, what is value of living things?

Intertwined with these interviews are two stories that explore how technology is literally changing our worldviews and physical reach. In one, the audience gets up close to U.S. Army pilots training to remotely command unmanned aerial vehicles —“drones” — by sitting for long stretches inside a machine. In the second story we meet Dean Lloyd, who at age 68, is one of only a handful of people implanted with the Argus II artificial retina. Blinded at age 24, Dean now has a microchip directly attached to his optic nerve and can once again ‘see’ the world with the help of a machine inside of him.

Continually circling back to his own story, the filmmaker leads the audience through what is, in essence, a ‘theological’ discussion of technology. In using his own life as a focal point, Avi Zev Weider weaves Welcome to the Machine  into an experience that begins as an abstract intellectual discussion about technology but ends up being a very human and emotional journey for himself as well as the audience.

Some compelling ideas considered by this film:

1. Technology is a universal force that is perhaps inseparable from what we are as a species.
2. Alan Turing conceived of Artificial Intelligence as a way to escape his own tormented life situation.
3. Ted Kaczynski, Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Kelly agree on many aspects of technology.
4. 1 out of 3 U.S. warplanes is a UAV.
5. By 2020 we may have $1000 computers that have the hardware computational capacity of the human brain.
6. When you start talking about technology you always end up talking about yourself.

Welcome to the Machine
Welcome to the Machine at the SXSW documentary competition
Indiewire | “Meet the 2012 SXSW Filmmakers #3: Avi Zev Weider, Welcome to the Machine”
what (not) to doc | In the works: Welcome to the Machine