Does the Internet Dream?

In Werner Herzog’s new documentary, Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World, Herzog asks the question “Does the Internet Dream?” to several engineers, scientists, and thought-leaders. To me, the Internet is the means of communication between machines, and does not include computations outside of the protocols and algorithms that route information. After being able to accept a new definition that includes all computers on the network, I started to wonder why Herzog would even ask the question in the first place, and soon shared his despair he surely felt by the responses he received afterwards. For example, an engineer replying with “Yes, because they remember inputs received by sensors in the past and can make future predictions based off of them”.

It is not surprising that Herzog would be drawn towards the idea of an emotional artificial intelligence. Herzog’s documentaries routinely revolve around the apathy of nature, and that, ultimately, fighting against a chaotic and hostile environment is the unfortunate essence of the human experience. The human experience is also a lonely one, and Herzog struggles to discover shared sentiment even with penguins in Antarctica.

The greatest irony would be to willfully surround ourselves with a new intelligence that cannot dream and cannot feel, yet make the critical decisions for us. After all, the Grizzly Man is about a bear-lover who was eaten by his furry friends, and I can’t help but feel that Herzog may feel that AI may result in the same consequences.