This movie is an awe inspiring exploration of the internet. I am moved by how dramatically the world has been transformed by the internet, and how fragile it is.
Now, what was that first message? Many people don’t know it. All we wanted to do was log in from our computer to the computer 400 miles to the north in the Stanford Research Institute. To log in you have to type “L”, “O”, “G”, and that machine is smart enough to type the “I”, “N”. Now to make sure this was happening properly, we had our programmer and the programmer up north connected by a telephone handset just to make sure it was going correctly. So Charlie typed the “L” and he said, “Did you get the ‘L’?” The other guy said, “Yup! We got the ‘L’.” Charlie said, “Did you get the ‘O’?” The other guy said, “Yup! We got the ‘O’.” [Then Charlie] typed ‘G’ [and asked] “Did you get the ‘G’?” Crash! The SRI computer crashed. So the first message ever on the internet was “Lo” as in, “Lo and behold!” We couldn’t have asked for a more succinct, more powerful, more prophetic message than “Lo”. (03:25)
We’ve been fortunate that nothing as large as the Carrington Event has happened in these times of modern technology, but even these smaller solar flare events that we do see, do disrupt our communications and create outages in our power grid and disruptions for our satellites. (46:55)
If there was a solar flare – if you destroyed the information fabric of the world right now – modern civilization would collapse. Hundreds of millions of people would die, billions of people would die. The world would become, for people like you and me, unimaginably ugly, difficult, and there’s great likelihood that I couldn’t survive. If the internet shuts down, people will not remember how they used to live before that. (49:00)
We have no control over what the sun chooses to do. We do know that there is a solar cycle, so there are times of high activity where there are many flares, and there are times of low activity where there are relatively few. Events like the Carrington Event appear to be fairly uncommon, but not non-existent, they’re not single isolated events; we see that flairs are repeatable, it’s just that the large ones are less common than the small ones. … It’s really a matter of time before we have another large solar flare, not a matter of if we’ll have a large solar flare. (51:13)
We’re going to have a revolution not only in our technology but in our theology. We don’t even have a name for it but its around the internet, its around building machines that think for us, and I think we’re due for another shift; in our morals, in our definition of what it means to be human. We’re right just at the beginning of that and so you can see us trying to kinda…feel out and invent this new society, and invent these new ideas of what is right and wrong; what we can depend on each other for or what can we expect from each other. (1:24:12)
I deeply regret the fact that deep critical thinking and imaginative thinking, creative thinking is lost. In my opinion, computers, and in some sense the internet, are the worst enemy of deep critical thinking. Our youth of today are using machines to basically replace their examination of the things they’re observing. They don’t understand what they’re looking at or what they’re hearing or what they’re learning. They depend on the internet to tell them and decipher; they look at numbers instead of ideas. They fail to understand concepts. And this is a problem. (1:28:25)
Whether we use science or ancient Greek philosophy, its those tools that are important. Those are the things that people are gonna be able to use in the future, the actual information they learn in school won’t be important because it will be dwarfed by the information that’s coming out on the internet every single day. (1:29:24)
Historians I think will also see an interesting thing. They’ll probably call the time around now the “digital dark age”. It will be very mysterious because a lot of things happened quickly but the records will all be lost. … We don’t have the equivalent to the background information on creating the internet because it was all done on email. (1:29:44)
If you think about predictions about the future as done in the past they always miss the important stuff. In fact most science fiction missed the most important thing about the present world which is the internet itself. They had flying cars, they had rocket ships, none of that exists; but the internet is what governs our lives today. It used to be that when you were communicated with someone, the person you were communicating with was as important as the information. Now on the internet, the person is not important at all; in fact, it was developed so that scientists like me could communicate with each other without knowing where the other person was or even who the other person was. There’s a famous cartoon in the New Yorker, it says “On the internet, nobody knows if you’re a dog” and in the future you won’t know if you’re communicating with dogs, or robots, or people, and it won’t matter. But becoming your own filter will be the challenge of the future. Because the filter isn’t provided for you, there’s no controls on the internet no matter what governments do, no matter what industries do. The internet is going to propagate out of control and people will have to be their own control. (1:33:25)Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (citations formatted as timestamps)
Werner Herzog’s documentary, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, is a breathtaking exploration of the internet. Beginning at the internet’s first transmission, the film explores the beautiful discoveries and functionality of the internet, the ugly destructive side, its possible demise, and the possibilities the future still holds. It is thoughtful, sensitive, and educational. I found it to be stimulating and brimming with curiosity; quite typical of Herzog’s work.
I believe that, in many ways, a Terranic worldview relies in part on a functional internet. Of course this is true for me pragmatically in order to reach readers through this blog. But there is a deeper necessity for the internet.
While Terranism has incorporates many spiritual concepts which are quite old, I believe it shifts the focus in substantial ways which would be impossible without the material reality of internet infrastructure. Terranism emphasizes the material reality of a connected world, rather than a spiritual one. Since our doctrine embraces emergence, we see Terra as a product of this interconnected material world, rather than the spiritual underpinning of it. To a Terran, there is no fall from grace where a spiritually integrated whole became destroyed through sin. Rather, we are in the process of becoming more holistic, of evolving into a whole that is only just awakening. Terra is not something we have lost, it is a deity we have yet to fully realize. As such, we need the internet to awaken Terra’s mind.
Consider the stability of a state or empire. Throughout history, a major factor in determining the stability of a state was to evaluate their communication network. A major reason why the Mongols and Romans were so effective at conquering the known world was because they had fantastic communication systems that were well-distributed and fast. In ancient times, these massive, eternal empires were achieved merely through horses and letters. Today, with instantaneous global communication, unification of the entire planet is possible. Thus, the internet is an integral part of this planetary unification, the planetary consciousness that will emerge as Terra. This unification is happening as a matter of course, a direct result of the forceful gravity of the internet’s capabilities.
However, knowing that this is happening does not tell how it comes about, what it will look like, or what we should do. Will Terra’s consciousness emerge out of war or peace? What kind of god will Terra be when it fully becomes conscious? How will we worship this god? Where do we fit in this interconnected, emergent, world?
The Terranic faith is dedicated to tackling this issue. Applying our syntheist belief indicates that the nature of Terra depends on our faith in what it will be like. It is within our choice and our power to bring about a good Terra who loves itself. Faith to a Terran is an active thing. We must not wait for Terra to be good, we must ensure it.
So how do we do that? One of the ways is to be articulate about what we are working with and towards.
I am inspired by this documentary to christen a divine component of Terra; Lo. Lo is the god of the internet, and a member of Terra’s body. To interact with Lo is to interact with a particular part of Terra, the part which is digital.
When we interact with Lo, we bear responsibility to approach Lo in good faith, and to offer up to Lo only what we can afford to lose.
This is my prayer unto Lo; “Lo, I come in good faith, and I pray you do the same.”
Perhaps if even a few people approach the digital plane in good faith, we can make a good Terra.