Plug & Pray

Since antiquity, humankind has dreamed of creating intelligent machines. The invention of the computer and the breathtaking pace of technological progress appear to be bringing the realisation of this dream within our grasp. Scientists and engineers across the world, like Raymond Kurzweil and Hiroshi Ishiguro, are working on the development of intelligent robots, which are poised to become an integral part of all areas of human life. Robots are to do the housework, look after the children, care for the elderly... Yet, the ultimate vision goes even further, envisioning a merger of man and machine that will throw off the biological shackles of evolution and finally make eternal life a reality. The film delves into a world in which computer technology, robotics, biology, neuroscience, and developmental psychology merge. We visit the world’s leading experts in their laboratories in Japan, the USA, Italy and Germany. One of their very own, a pioneer of computer development and artificial intelligence, former MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum, has become one of the harshest critics of those visions of technological omnipotence. He sees the widespread belief that nature can be entirely grasped by means of science and thus is computable as a disastrous aberration of human thinking. Weizenbaum, who created ELIZA, the world’s first speech recognition programme and mother of all chatbots, witnessed how, within only a few decades, computers have been entrusted with all kinds of tasks, even decision-making. Wary of unstinting devotion to progress, he keeps asking: Do we need all this? And what will it mean to be human in a world run by machines?

Principal Cast

Joseph Weizenbaum, Prof. of Computer Science emeritus MIT
Raymond Kurzweil, Kurzweil Technologies (Boston)
Minoru Asada, Prof. Osaka University
Hiroshi Ishiguro, Prof. Osaka University, ATR Kyoto
Neil Gershenfeld, Prof. Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT
Giorgio Metta, Prof. University of Genua
Hans-Joachim Wünsche, Prof. University of the Bundeswehr Munich
Joel Moses, Prof. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Bavarian Film Award 2010 for "best documentary"
Nomination for the Adolf Grimme TV-Award 2013
Grand Prix of the Jury, Paris International Science Film Festival
Best Film Award, Mostra de Ciencia e Cinema La Coruña
Science Communication Award, Science Film Festival Athens
Best Film - Festival of Science Documentary Films, Olomouc


Superbly realized look at the promise, problems and ethics of robotics. A great conversation piece.

A must-see for sci fi geeks.
MondayMag, Victoria

Funny, informative and moving.
Cambridge News

Plug and Pray is a provocation, both to those who are afraid of the level of control computers have over our lives, as well as those who want it increased. An enthralling and chilling film.
International Film Guide

Anyone interested in the future possibilities of science and humanity should see this film.
London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film

A shocking and gripping film. Joseph Weizenbaum, gifted with humor, represents sanity and reason, whereas madness is ennobled around him.
Hans-Peter Dürr - Nuclear Physicist, Right Livelihood Award Laureate