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View other events for the week of 11/30/2011
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
Date Wednesday November 30
Time 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location Details
Humanist Hall
390 27th Street
uptown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway
Event Type Screening
EmailHumanistHall [at]

Film evenings begin with potluck refreshments and social hour at 6:30 pm,
followed by the film at 7:30 pm, followed by a discussion after the film.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
Episode III
by Adam Curtis

This is a series of three documentary films by renown director Adam Curtis about how humans have been colonized by the machines they have built. Adam Curtis will show us that, although we don’t realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of computers. His film series claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us.

Today we see Episode III: The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. In this episode Adam Curtis 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 we are unable to change our world.

At the heart of this Episode is a famous scientist — William Hamilton. In 1963 he argued that human behavior is really guided by codes buried deep within us. This Episode begins in the jungles of the Congo and Rwanda in the year 2000. William Hamilton was there to help prove his theory that humans are machines controlled by genes. But all around him the Congo was being torn apart by “Africa’s First World War.” This Episode then interweaves the two stories — the strange roots of William Hamilton’s theory, and the history of the West’s tortured relationship with the Congo over the past 100 years.

Hamilton’s idea was later popularized by Richard Dawkins as “the selfish gene.” The theory was that individual human beings are really just machines whose only job is to make sure their codes are passed on for eternity. Adam Curtis tells us that Hamilton’s idea that humans are computers controlled by their genes had been accepted by the public. He shows us that this idea that we humans are all “soft machines,” driven by the impulses of our genes, governs much of our politics and personal lives. But he also asks whether we have accepted this fatalistic philosophy — that humans are helpless computers — so as to explain and excuse the fact that, as in the Congo, we are unable to improve and change our world. So Adam Curtis’ dark conclusion is that we all willingly adopt Hamilton’s idea that we are genetic machines because it explains why there are so many dreadful things going on in the world that we’re powerless to stop.

Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street

$5 donations are accepted

Added to the calendar on Sunday Oct 30th, 2011 11:31 PM
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