26 Tech Documentaries Worth Watching

I’m a big fan of documentaries and some of my favorites involve technology and how they affect our everyday lives. Here are some of the more interesting ones that I’ve come across.

1) Citizen Four (2014) — RT: 98%

A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

2) Particle Fever (2013) — RT: 95%

Physicists are on the cusp of the greatest scientific discovery of all time — or perhaps their greatest failure.

3) The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz ( 2014 ) — RT: 93%

The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life at the age of 26.

4) Indie Game: The Movie (2012) — RT: 93%

A documentary that follows the journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

5) We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013) — RT: 93%

A documentary that details the creation of Julian Assange’s controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history.

6) Who Killed The Electric Car (2006) — RT: 88%

A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.

7) Free To Play (2014) — IMDB: 8.4

Follow three professional video game players as they overcome personal adversity, family pressures, and the realities of life to compete in a $1,000,000 tournament that could change their lives forever.

8) Manufactured Landscapes (2006) — RT: 84%

Jennifer Baichwal’s cameras follow Edward Burtynsky (1955- ) as he visits what he calls manufactured landscapes: slag heaps, e-waste dumps, huge factories in the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces of China, and a place in Bangladesh where [4)ships are taken apart for recycling. In China, workers gather outside the factory, exhorted by their team leader to produce more and make fewer errors. A woman assembles a circuit breaker, and women and children are seen picking through debris or playing in it. Burtynsky concludes with a visit to Shanghai, the world’s fastest growing city, where wealth and poverty, high-rises and old neighborhoods are side by side.

9) The John Searl Story (2009) — IMDB: 8.3

John Searl claims he has the solution to our global energy crisis. What’s more, he says he’s had it for over 60 years. Regarded by many as The Godfather of free energy science, John Searl believes his magnetic generator, the Searl Effect Generator, can save our planet from environmental disaster. So, what if he’s telling the truth? The John Searl Story explores this question, as we chronicle the life of arguably the most controversial inventor of the last hundred years. From the childhood dreams that led to his theorem The Law of the Squares, to the mystery tests of his UFO-like levity discs.

10) Collapse (2009) — RT: 82%

Meet Michael Ruppert, a different kind of American. A former Los Angeles police officer turned independent reporter, he predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter, From the Wilderness, at a time when most Wall Street and Washington analysts were still in denial. Director Chris Smith has shown an affinity for outsiders in films like American Movie and The Yes Men. In Collapse, he departs stylistically from his past documentaries by interviewing Ruppert in a format that recalls the work of Errol Morris and Spalding Gray.

11) The Light Bulb Conspiracy (2010) — IMDB: 8.1

Once upon a time….. products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: ‘A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence. During the 1950s, with the birth of the consumer society, the concept took on a whole new meaning, as explained by flamboyant designer Brooks Stevens: ‘Planned Obsolescence, the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary…’. The growth society flourished, everybody had everything, the waste was piling up (preferably far away in illegal dumps in the Third World) — until consumers started rebelling… Can the modern growth society survive without Planned Obsolescence? Did the eternal light bulb ever exist? How can a tiny chip ‘kill’ a product? How did two artists from New York manage to extend the lives of millions of iPods? Is Planned Obsolescence itself becoming obsolete?

12) Countdown to Zero (2010) — RT: 81%

A documentary about the escalating nuclear arms race.

13) Future By Design (2006) — IMDB: 8.0

Future by Design shares the life and far-reaching vision of Jacque Fresco, considered by many to be a modern day Da Vinci. Peer to Einstein and Buckminster Fuller, Jacque is a self-taught futurist who describes himself most often as a “generalist” or multi-disciplinarian — a student of many inter-related fields. He is a prolific inventor, having spent his entire life (he is now 90 years old) conceiving of and devising inventions on various scales which entail the use of innovative technology. As a futurist, Jacque is not only a conceptualist and a theoretician, but he is also an engineer and a designer.

14) TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard (2013) — IMDB: 7.6

Its the day before the trial starts. Fredrik packs a computer into a rusty old Volvo. Along with his Pirate Bay co-founders, he faces $13 million in damage claims to Hollywood in a copyright infringement case.

15) Deep Web (2015) — IMDB: 7.5

A feature documentary that explores the rise of a new Internet; decentralized, encrypted, dangerous and beyond the law.

16) Surviving Progress (2011) — RT: 75%

Humanity’s ascent is often measured by the speed of progress. But what if progress is actually spiraling us downwards, towards collapse? Ronald Wright, whose best-seller, A Short History Of Progress inspired SURVIVING PROGRESS, shows how past civilizations were destroyed by “progress traps” — alluring technologies and belief systems that serve immediate needs, but ransom the future. As pressure on the world’s resources accelerates and financial elites bankrupt nations, can our globally-entwined civilization escape a final, catastrophic progress trap? With potent images and illuminating insights from thinkers who have probed our genes, our brains, and our social behaviour, this requiem to progress-as-usual also poses a challenge: to prove that making apes smarter isn’t an evolutionary dead-end.

17) Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine (2015) — Metascore: 75%

A look at the personal and private life of the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs.

18) The Hacker Wars (2014) — IMDB: 7.5

Ripped from international headlines, The Hacker Wars takes you to the front lines of the high-stakes battle over the fate of the Internet, freedom and privacy.

19) Technocalyps (2006) — IMDB: 7.4

Technocalyps examines transhumanism. Experts and scientists discuss whether human beings will use discoveries in genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence to enhance their bodies and minds beyond their current physical and mental forms.

20) We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012) — IMDB: 7.4

A documentary on the workings and beliefs of the self-described “hacktivist” collective, Anonymous.

21) High Tech, Low Life (2013) — IMDB: 7.2

A documentary that follows the journey of two of China’s first citizen reporters as they travel the country chronicling under-reported news and social issues stories.

22) Transcendant Man (2009) — IMDB: 7.2

TRANSCENDENT MAN chronicles the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist that presents his bold vision of the Singularity, a point in the near future when technology will be changing so rapidly, that we will have to enhance ourselves with artificial intelligence to keep up. Ray predicts this will be the dawning of a new civilization in which we will no longer be dependent on our physical bodies, we will be trillions of times more intelligent and there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed; world hunger and poverty will be solved and we will ultimately cure death. Critics accuse Ray of being too optimistic and argue that the dangers of the Singularity far outweigh the benefits, pointing out the apocalyptic implications that once machines achieve consciousness, we may not be able to control them. Whether Rays controversial ideas incite excitement or fear, dogma or disbelief this ambitious documentary will forever change the way you look at life, death, and your own future.

23) Minecraft: The Story of Mojang (2012) — IMDB: 7.1

The first year in the life of independent game studio “Mojang” following the landmark success of their debut title, “Minecraft.”

24) Downloaded (2013) — RT: 67%

A documentary that explores the downloading revolution; the kids that created it, the bands and the businesses that were effected by it, and its impact on the world at large.

25) Ulterior States (2015) — N/A

Ulterior States takes a different approach to explaining what Bitcoin is about. The producer Tomer Kantor has gathered and compiled interviews and random footage from Bitcoin’s early days (2012–2015). The documentary goes beyond the Mt. Gox fiasco and does not try to explain the technical features of Bitcoin. Where other documentaries get stuck in technical details or the price hype, Ulterior States takes a totally unique approach and focus solely on Bitcoins political implications and core values.

26) How to Build a Bionic Man (2013) — N/A

How to Build a Bionic Man is a modern day Frankenstein’s manual, explaining how to build a human being entirely from mechanised body parts. Presented by Bertolt Meyer, a Swiss psychologist who has a bionic hand himself, it was a fascinating, if at times frightening, insight into how modern technology can replace, and often improve, biological limbs.
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