Lo And Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World

August 19, 2016

UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock, recreates the first internet computer-to-computer communication with a Stanford University computer on Oct. 29, 1969, from a closet-size computer — the “Lo” in the movie title refers to an aborted transmission of  “Login” (credit: Magnolia Pictures)

In the movie “Lo and Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World,” released today, legendary documentarian Werner Herzog discovers and explores the internet in a series of ten impressionistic vignettes.

These range from internet pioneers (Leonard Kleinrock, Robert Kahn,  Danny Hillis), AI/roboticists (Sebastian Thrun, Tom Mitchell, “Raj” Rajkumar, Joydeep Biswas), and Mars explorers (with Elon Musk — Herzog volunteered to go) to dystopians — how a solar flare could crash our internet-based civilization in a few days, electrosensitive hermits living off the grid, online-game addicts, black-hat hackers (Kevin Mitnick), government intrusion (Jonathan L. Zittrain), a family cruelly harrassed by trolls, and smartphone-obsessed Tibetan monks.

Magnolia Pictures | “Lo And Behold” trailer

KurzweilAI readers may not find much new in the film, but I found it compelling anyway, thanks to explorer-poet-philosopher Herzog’s soft-spoken, quirky humor (“Does the Internet dream of itself?” was one question he asked) and unrushed, contemplative — almost meditative — style, plus awesome, unobtrusive music.

Scene from “Lo and Behold” at CMU National Robotics Engineering Center (credit: Magnolia Pictures)

I found it enjoyable to watch this 98-minute film (available from Amazon Video and iTunes in addition to theatres) in two late-night viewing segments on an iPad.

Los Angeles Times | Sundance Film Festival