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Plug and Pray cover photo

Plug and Pray 2010

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Judith Malek-Mahdavi, coproduction with Bayerischer Rundfunk
Directed by Jens Schanze
DVD, color, 88 min.



Jr. High - General Adult
Computer Science, Ethics, Popular Culture, Artificial Intelligence

Date Entered: 09/08/2011

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

This intriguing and thought-provoking film centers on the late Joseph Weizbaum and his thoughts concerning artificial intelligence. The production opens with Weizbaum trying to turn on his laptop and having some difficulty doing so, which is rather ironic when one realizes that the late Dr. Weizbaum was one of the pioneers of the computer revolution, taught computer science at M.I.T., and was one of the first, if not the first, to develop an artificial intelligence in the form of his program “Eliza.” Throughout the film we see contemporary researchers in artificial intelligence from Italy, Japan, and the United States doing their research and talking enthusiastically about what the future holds with the advances in technology. Perhaps the most enthusiastic is Ray Kurzweil, who seems to view people as some sort of machine that happen to be made of flesh. Weizbaum seems to be the only one who sees something in humans and humanity that is not mentioned but does differentiate people from machines—that of having a soul. With so many people racing so quickly to a possible future where androids become real, Weizman’s ideas need to be carefully considered. This production would be an excellent resource for classes from computer science, to ethics, to futurism.

Awards

  • Winner, Grand Prix du Jury for Best Film, International Science Film Festival, Paris, 2010
  • Winner, Science Communication Award, International Science Film Festival, Athens, 2010