by Jarrett Seto
Kanopy is a multiplatform streaming service that has partnered with public libraries, universities, and post-secondary schools to deliver independent films, educational content, classic movies, quality documentaries, and other enriching programs to your screen. You can view fantastic and captivating material any time you’d like. Kanopy promotes exciting, well crafted, and relevant documentaries on contemporary and pressing issues of all calibre. Here three new titles I’ve chosen because I believe that they should be viewed immediately.
Thomas Piketty is the closest thing to an academic rock star that an economist could ever hope to be. Based off of his monumental and world renowned book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century translates perfectly to the screen for this informative documentary. The true scale of global wealth inequality is staggering and hard to comprehend. This documentary is a journey from the French Revolution to modern times, following the ebb and flow of wealth and power. Terms like corporate welfare, inherited wealth, estate tax, and income gaps have never been so in vogue, especially when you learn about the absurdities of wealth distribution among the most fiscally powerful nations.
Although short in time, these under 30 minute Great Courses documentaries are rich in content and incredibly applicable to our current political climate. Learn how confirmation bias works, how we are all affected by it, and what the real world consequences of this are. Sure, we like to think that we’re rational beings, acting with the best information at hand. But the stark reality is, no matter how good you think you are at fact-checking and disseminating information, you still possess biases that affect how you consume it. We all fall victim to this, and it’s not our fault. It’s a mixture of the wiring of our brain and the design of and role technology plays in this. Our smartphones, social media sites, and the algorithms they use continue to divert our attention, promote our most base and reactionary instincts, and drive wedges into our splintering societies. In these documentaries, prepare to be disturbed by fake news and how true and false information can be molded to create confusion. See how these deliberately manufactured falsehoods are designed to incite an emotional response so our critical appraisals are compromised. Be alarmed that this is a major threat to democracy, as misinformation is hard to correct once it spreads.
The Future of Work and Death is a deeply philosophical documentary, which covers the nature of what work exactly is to us and where it’s headed. It also discusses the future of death, and if there will even be death in the sense that we currently think of it. The scale of technological revolution and its effect on automation in technology is exponential and this means in the near future the division of labour will be predominately automated in many industries. The nature of work is changing faster than we can understand. What will come after complete automation of most jobs and what is our potential?
The second half of The Future of Work and Death is just as interesting. Will we eventually overcome our biological limitations and be blessed with superintelligence and extreme longevity? Will this change what is fundamentally important about being human? There could be a point in the near future when we are composed of mostly inorganic material, and possibly live on after our organic bodies die, with our consciousness’s uploaded onto a cloud storage system. The implications, both legal and moral, of near immortality in one form or another, have vast repercussions for who we are as a species and a society.
Available for streaming here.