Plug & Pray
|Plug & Pray|
|Directed by||Jens Schanze|
|Produced by||Judith Malek-Mahdavi
|Written by||Jens Schanze|
|Music by||Rainer Bartesch|
|Edited by||Jens Schanze
|Distributed by||United Docs|
Plug & Pray is a 2010 documentary film about the promise, problems and ethics of artificial intelligence and robotics. The main protagonists are the former MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum and the futurist Raymond Kurzweil. The title is a pun on the computer hardware phrase "Plug and Play".
Computer experts around the world strive towards the development of intelligent robots. Pioneers like Raymond Kurzweil and Hiroshi Ishiguro dream of fashioning intelligent machines that will equal their human creators. In this potential reality, man and machine merge as a single unity. Rejecting evolution's biological shackles tantalisingly dangles the promise of eternal life for those bold enough to seize it. But others, like Joseph Weizenbaum, counterattack against society's limitless faith in the redemptive powers of technology. Eloquent and tactful, he questions the prevailing discourses on new technologies, and their ethical relationships to human life. The film delves into a world where computer technology, robotics, biology, neuroscience, and developmental psychology merge and features the world’s leading roboticists in their laboratories in Japan, the USA, Italy and Germany.
Since antiquity, humankind has dreamed of creating intelligent machines. The invention of the computer and the breathtaking pace of technological progress appear to be bringing the realisation of this dream within the grasp of humans. Robots are to do the housework, look after the children, care for the elderly, and go to war. A pioneer of computer development and artificial intelligence, former MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum has become one of the harshest critics of their visions of technological omnipotence. Having created ELIZA, a landmark artificial intelligence program in 1966, the computer scientist subsequently watched helplessly as such technology was entrusted with even decision-making and was extensively employed by the military. Interviewed just prior to his death, he states: “War might not exist now if there wasn’t the capacity to wage it remotely.” Production of the film started in 2006 and ended in 2009. The death of the main protagonist Joseph Weizenbaum on March 5, 2008, fell in this period. The international festival premiere was at FIPA 2010 in Biarritz, France. Since then the film has been invited to 27 film festivals, among them the Seattle International Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Visions du Réel. The theatrical release in Germany was on Nov. 11, 2010.
The film won the Bavarian Film Award 2010 for "best documentary", the Grand Prix of the Jury for the best film at the Paris International Science Film Festival, the Primer Premio for best film at the Mostra de Ciencia e Cinema in La Coruña (Spain), and the Science Communication Award at the International Science Film Festival Athens. It was also chosen as the best international film at the 46th AFO, Science Documentary Festival in Olomouc, Czech Republic, in 2011.