The most surprising thing about Werner Herzog making Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World—a documentary focusing on technology, the Internet, and how it’s changing our world—is that the legendary director was 17 years old the first time he used a telephone.
The reason for the call was that he was trying to give a film production company a proposal for a movie. They liked the proposal, but 17-year-old Herzog knew things would become difficult once he showed up in person and they saw how young he was.
But now, in the Internet age, identity and perception are a bit more malleable. This can be both good and bad—such as when you are asked to talk to bots.
"You can talk to a robot. You don’t know even if a dog is typing back to you," Herzog tells Co.Create. "You just don’t know. It’s a strange anonymity and you have to learn how to cope with it."
In Lo & Behold, Herzog examines technology and the strange directions it takes us in: Everything from the birth of the Internet to self-driving cars to individuals with self-professed electromagnetic allergies to the likelihood of a post-human future.
Just a few miles from where we were speaking at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, the first message was sent out on ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet, inside a UCLA classroom. The content of that message gives the movie its title: "Lo."
Herzog is fascinated by how the room where the Internet was arguably born is now a recreation of itself.
"What is interesting is that the pioneers had no clue about the magnitude of what they were figuring out there," Herzog says. "I think only two decades later this room was reinstated . . . they had to find some furniture from the late 1960s in the basement to restore and create a museum piece. It came so late because none of them had a clue they were creating something of monumental importance. And they’re not to be blamed for it because even science fiction never had it on its radar. Science fiction spoke of colonies in outer space and flying cars."
In the exclusive clip below, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss speculates on the possibility that the Internet will someday supplant human contact: