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SEVEN ESSENTIAL NETFLIX DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Netflix, the quintessential source of great shows and movies – old and new – of every millennial hipster. This streaming site has gained popularity over the years with original web series like “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and, of course, “Stranger Things.” We are not out to downplay the quality of these programs but we all know these are about fictional folks. And sometimes, watching real people talk about real world issues is a lot more fascinating, if not intellectually satisfying.

Today, we count down seven full-length documentary features you can find on Netflix about science and technology. You don’t necessarily have to consider yourself a certified nerd to enjoy and appreciate the kind of information presented by these films. You simply have to look around you and notice how fast things change nowadays because of rapid developments in these two frequently entwined fields to realize that these stories hit much closer to home.

 

7 BANKING ON BITCOIN

Date Released: 2016

Directed by: Christopher Cannucciari

By now, we’re pretty sure you’ve heard about ‘bitcoins’ already, but did you know how it all happened? This cryptocurrency is the subject of this documentary feature from cinematographer turned producer-director Christopher Cannucciari, exploring its pros and cons, and its impact on the global financial industry.

Filmed through the vantage points of tech libertarians, who wanted to break the status quo, as well as the statists who went quick to rein bitcoin in upon learning of its role in the online illegal drug trade, this documentary is an essential viewing for everyone who is interested about the future of money.

 

6 THE SECRET RULES OF MODERN LIVING: ALGORITHMS

Date Released: 2015

Directed by: David Briggs

British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy attempts to demystify the weird and wonderful world of algorithms in this BBC television movie by showing people how it works and how it affects our daily lives. If you’re a senior high school student taking up computer science and your teacher is not helping you better understand this subject, then watching this documentary might serve you well.

Explaining math to a mainstream audience is like telling someone why a joke is funny. We know it’s not easy and this film somehow managed to successfully avoid convoluting this subject. But if you consider yourself a technophobe, then you’d probably rather skip this because it kind of validates some fears that machines are going to outsmart human beings. It’s an unsettling thought but it’s already happening whether we like it or not.

 

5 THE MARS GENERATION

Date Released: 2017

Directed by: Michael Barnett

We love the way this film juxtaposed events from the past to an exciting future featuring millennials who are not ashamed of calling themselves space nerds. This documentary follows a group of youngsters participating at a NASA Space Camp in the hopes of one day becoming the first people who will set foot on the Red Planet.

With interviews from resident science guys like Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku, among others, this documentary is definitely worth checking out if you need to satisfy your space geekery and feel good about what mankind can still accomplish. It’s an endearing piece of nonfiction film that can be a great source of inspiration for kids and some millennials who are out to prove they are more than just the so-called “me, me, me” generation.

 

4 ALPHAGO

Date Released: 2017

Directed by: Greg Kohs

This documentary literally pits man versus the machine. We have never seen a board game match that received so much hype and media attention until we saw this film. Computer scientists successfully developed an artificial intelligence that claim to have mastered ‘Go,’ the ancient Chinese board game that looks simple on the surface but is downright complicated. Enter Lee Sedol, South Korea’s number one professional Go player, to challenge the program. He was confident he could easily beat the computer. But did he?

Award-winning director Greg Kohs chronicles this absorbing event that tests the limits of both human and artificial intelligence. If you have Netflix and would like to stay positive about the future of mankind’s relationship with technology, check out this film. You know, just to offset all the negative thoughts you may have developed from binging on “Black Mirror.”

 

3 LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD

Date Released: 2016

Directed by: Werner Herzog

Legendary master storyteller Werner Herzog finally tackled the Internet in this documentary to add to his already long list of critically acclaimed films. In this effort, the German director ponders the existential impact of this technology, and wonders whether it also dreams of itself. He describes the invention of the world wide web as akin to that of mankind discovering fire.

Breaking the film into eight chapters, Herzog takes an in-depth look into the early days of the Internet, its dark side, en route to countless of other possible things it can do. Featuring interviews from trailblazing tech geniuses, Internet addicts, and modern-day hermits who despise its existence, this documentary is a certified must-see for everyone who is connected to the digital world.

 

2 CATCHING THE SUN

Date Released: 2015

Directed by: Shalini Kantayya

This is considered a breath of fresh air insofar as environmental documentaries are concerned simply because it almost had none of that gloom-and-doom scenarios, which have commonly been associated with films that touched on climate change. Filmmaker and environmental activist Shalini Kantayya focused instead on different people who are making significant contributions to help America transition to solar power without necessarily sacrificing economic progress.

Of course, that drastic change does not come without a price as experienced by eco-capitalist Van Jones, the best-selling author of the book titled “The Green Collar Economy,” who featured prominently in this film. Executive produced by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, this documentary chronicles the growth of the solar power industry in some countries and the challenges it continues to face in the US, which is still dominated by big fossil-fuel obsessed oil and gas companies.

 

1 INTO THE INFERNO

Date Released: 2016

Directed by: Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer

If the recent news about the activities of Mayon Volcano greatly fascinated you, then you best not miss this astonishing documentary from the genius Werner Herzog. In it, the erudite filmmaker reunites with his volcanologist friend, Clive Oppenheimer, to explore some of the world’s most dangerous active volcanoes. Journeying through Vanuatu, Indonesia, Iceland, Ethiopia and even North Korea, the two venture on a quest to unravel the mysteries of these violent yet rapturously beautiful forces of nature to grasp a deeper understanding of our world.

“It is hard to take your eyes off the fire that burns deep under our feet. Everywhere, under the crust of the continents and sea beds, it is a fire that wants to burst forth and it could not care less about what we are doing up here,” Herzog says about volcanoes. So, if you’re harboring some deep philosophical thoughts about the fragility of existence and the fate of humanity, then this documentary fits you perfectly.

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