All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a 2011 BBC documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis. The series argues that computers have failed to liberate humanity and instead have “distorted and simplified our view of the world around us”.
The title is taken from the 1967 poem of the same name by Richard Brautigan.
The first of three episodes aired on Monday 23 May 2011 at 9pm on BBC2.
Part 1: “Love and Power”
In the first episode, Curtis tracks the effects of Ayn Rand’s ideas on American financial markets, particularly via the influence on Alan Greenspan.
Part 2: “The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts”
This episode investigates how machine ideas such as cybernetics and systems theory were applied to natural ecosystems, and how this relates to the false idea that there is a balance of nature. Cybernetics has been applied to human beings to attempt to build societies without central control, self organising networks built of people, based on a fantasy view of nature.
Part 3: “The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey”
This programme looked into the selfish gene theory which holds that humans are machines controlled by genes which was invented by William Hamilton. Adam Curtis also covered the source of ethnic conflict that was created by Belgian colonialism’s artificial creation of a racial divide and the ensuing slaughter that occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is a source of raw material for computers and cell phones.