The goal of accumulating all human knowledge in one repository has been a dream since ancient times. Only recently, however, has that dream become a reality. Quietly and behind closed doors, Google has been executing a project to scan and digitize every printed word on the planet. Working with the world’s most prestigious libraries, the webmasters are reinventing the limits of copyright in the name of free access to anyone, anywhere. What can possibly be wrong with this picture?
As Google and the World Brain reveals, a whole lot. Some argue that Google’s actions represent aggressive theft on an enormous scale, others see them as an attempt to monopolize our shared cultural heritage, and still others view the project as an attempt to flatten our minds by consolidating complex ideas into searchable “extra-long tweets.” At first slowly, and then with intensifying conviction, a diverse coalition mobilizes to stop the fulfillment of this ambitious dream. Incisive and riveting as it uncovers a high-stakes multinational heist. Ben Lewis’s Google and the World Brain is a film about the dreams, dilemmas and dangers of the Internet and voices an important alternative to the technological utopianism of our time.
Co-presented by CROSSROADS – Festival for Documentary Film and Discourse