Quick-Thoughts: Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011)

Damn, this documentary didn’t have to go so hard by deflating every ounce of optimism you ever had for an ideal humanity, but that’s probably why it’s so good.

Part 1: Love and Power

When it comes down to it, I think the hard lesson here in Love and Power is that as much as we would like technology to rely on fixing us, it is not something that in totality, can control us. It works much more as a temporary convenience to accelerate our ideal altruisms than it does as one that can cure humanity’s obsession with power without fluctuating new issues to replace the old ones for which get resolved or perhaps just repeated. We do not give ourselves to a possible technology’s subjective inputs — and that’s a whole other philosophical headache of an “impossibility” which I don’t want to get into — nearly to the degree of simply letting technology rationalize our own human ideas, which is the only reason why we chose to use the technology in the first place. We are certainly asking for how we can be helped based on said circumstances, but not exactly what is all that should be helped to begin with in the grander scheme of factors we either don’t consider or have no knowledge of, as if we ever could ask something like that though.

I mean, humanity‘s positions for leaderships have become so utterly complex and dynamic beyond the simplicity of submitting under say a straightforward pong game, so how could it possibly replicate it at this point in time?

Plus, even if by some miracle, which is although a miracle that “could” happen in the near future, technology found the solution for devising the epitome of Ayn Rand’s philosophy for what would make the altruistic perfect individual and therefore the perfect society — an instance though that has already been continuously attempted and believed too through economical maneuver by the greatest intellectuals who followed her as seen in this documentary —, humanity, in all its now multi-billion population of politicians, loaners, philosophers, everyday persons, and whatever other declining or rising power source to account for possible interference, would not allow for its scheme to trial even remotely to completion because they are a product of other human customs (like love *aww*) that would need to change, extending beyond just a capitalistic mindset for it to work. And, as far as I’m concerned knowing humans and being a human, I doubt any of us would be willing to let technology have the full grip on our freedom to alter that anytime soon. Therefore, I don’t quite see the “Utopia” happening just yet at least in our lifetime.

Part II: The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts

I’ve always found the concept of “feedback loops” to be special, namely because as someone who is quite stubborn with firmly believing in “truths” regarding the reality of our existence — I think I’m much more of an understander than an accepter —, the ecological term has always just made complete sense to me. Yet, not in the way as the film described its initial presumptions during its discovery to the 70s as an explanation for the “balance of nature”. If our means for harming the environment are precisely the material formulated to cause climate change to happen which can produce an uninhabitable world for humans, it just seems logical. It is like a defense mechanism, but not in any means one capable enough to let itself go back to the start. The word “loop” is a bit misguiding because while it may rightfully assume that the goal usually yearns to remain the same, it forgets that the goal is unattainable at times, and even in many cases requires the goal to alter into a secondary, more experimental solution.

Humanity trying to become nature in order to brace its methodical order for mending is particularly funny to me, because it completely undermines the idea that humanity is already a set of nature; the flawed mechanics of humanity now (the powerful figures, our counteractive living resources, etc.) already is nature, whether green or smoke, at play. Recreating ourselves in hopes of improving ourselves is nothing short of chasing your own tail — and that’s hilarious! If our world really is made of interconnected, programmed reactions to negative actions that are always in favor of fixing said actions to inception, it is not by any means a perfect one. It is just like a computer: it tries its best to reconcile the future, but cannot often make up for it in equilibrium when it is wrong.

Part III: The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

To think we are simply just a rejuvenated code based on our ancestors, a minute trial of survival theories in our ways of balancing egoism and altruism amongst an accumulation of over more than just the multi-billion population of today because of those who died in history, leaves room for existential chaos. It dominates the idea that we are beings with free-will and that we have the ability to do anything a human could possibly want to accomplish, because we are firstly controlled by genes. When the documentary mentions of George Price’s suicide, it really didn’t surprise me. Imagine discovering that the closest truth regarding our humanity is that it is simply a formula as equally important of to all the other things, living or material, in the world. It completely demeans our often high-thinking idea of who we are on this planet compared to the rest that inhabits it, and really does beg of the human condition to pursue something to dismiss such a thought in order to revert back to our superiority complex. Hence, Price’s turning to Christianity: a belief system that may not be seen as closer to truth then this law of natural selection in the scientific field, but something mentally healthier that supports our ego and reason to live by emphasizing our importance in the larger scheme of things.

The function of genes is eye-opening to me. It is a supposedly consistent existence that understands its necessity to sacrifice itself for other genes for the greater good of what they’re meant to do as a collective. This defines a code, something that knows its duties and does it till interference in its construction. But, it reminds me of Belgium’s liberal yet negative influence on the Hutu and Tutsi population’s relationship in the 1900s, and how all it takes for people to change is by making them aware of their differences; that is the popular interference on humanity’s ideal code of altruism, and possibility for peace. Our freedom to spot polarity, whether falsely misguided or not, between each other is what causes us to act like a nasty variant of code, to put those we are presumably programmed to care for before our own sakes and to put those we figure don’t secondary. And like suicide, we are capable of falling forth to this system of violent nature not for ourselves but because we were possibly born to do such, which is an incredibly frightening thought.

Verdict: A-

My Favorite Documentaries

“All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” is currently available to stream on thoughtmaybe.

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