All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Filmmaker Adam Curtis returns with a brilliant new documentary series that explores the ways in which many of our modern ideas and conventionally held beliefs have been perversely shaped by the machines we’ve created.

In this episode, Curtis tracks the woefully unintended effects of Ayn Rand’s “objectivist” ideology on the financial markets and technocratic elite of America during the 1990s.

This is the story of the dream that computers could create a new kind of stable world. One that would bring about a new kind of global capitalism free of all risk and without the cyclical boom and bust of the past – one that would abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in a cybernetic system without hierarchical control.

Well, we all know how that worked out, don’t we?

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6 Comments

Filed under Economy, Philosophy, Technology

6 responses to “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

  1. tf

    Thanks Red Tory!
    The connections between philosophy and economics that are outlined in the program are vital for us to understand and learn about.
    You always bring great links. Glad you’re posting:)

  2. Glad you enjoyed the film and thanks for the comment.

  3. Resi

    It was an enjoyable series, but I always find Curtis’ documentaries to suffer a dumb case of the “Great Man” outlook of history, in which he traces complex social phenomena all the way down to a single individual or group (Rand, Bernays, Freud, etc.). Are we to believe that Silicon Valley would have any less amount of libertarian dorks if Rand had never wrote? Or that America’s financial policy would be significantly different? I’m not convinced. Especially with that episode that deals with the mechanistic and holistic outlook of the ecologists.

  4. Resi: The point is debateable, to be sure, but can it be argued that there aren’t significant “thought leaders” in various fields of intellectual endeavour that have powerfully influenced our ways of appreciating the world.

    Curtis is astute at isolating these “thought leaders” and tracking the influence and consequences of their ideological beliefs.

  5. phenomena all the way down to a single individual or group (Rand,

  6. “This is the story of the dream that computers could create a new kind of stable world. One that would bring about a new kind of global capitalism free of all risk and without the cyclical boom and bust of the past ….”

    Who ever said that??? Every time my company puts out prospectuses, 90% or more of the disclosure concerns risk — whole forests have been wiped out in order to apprise potential investors of the risk of investing.

    You’re barking up the wrong tree, slayer of scary straw men. The only entity that I know of that wants you to believe they can eliminate risk is the gummint.

    “Well, we all know how that worked out, don’t we?” Yes we do.

    I blame Bawney “You can force banks to lend to bad credit risks at no risk to the banking system” Fwank. No computers necessary in that debacle.

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