8 Best Tech Documentaries to Watch on Netflix in 2022
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming platforms, offering different types of content, including intriguing docu-series and documentaries.
Speaking of which, there’s nothing more helpful than a documentary when learning about new technology poised to transform society. If you watch documentaries on Amazon, Netflix, or another service, these eight on the future of technology are not to be missed.
The below-listed documentaries are the best movies on Netflix right now. So, let’s dive right into it.
Downloaded is a 2013 documentary film directed by Alex Winter and dedicated to the impact of file-sharing services in the modern world. The film also talks about the people who contributed to the development of such technologies, in particular the creators of the Napster file-sharing network, Sean Fanning and Sean Parker.
The film comprises interviews with file-sharing software developers and musicians talking about the copyright issue that comes with file sharing. The main part of the film is devoted to the history of Napster, the first service created for free data exchange.
The founders of the company talk about the idea of such a service, the phenomenal success of the service in the first three months, and the lawsuits against Napster that followed, owed, initiated by musicians and record companies, which eventually led to its bankruptcy and takeover by a peer-to-peer company called Rhapsody in 2011.
Many popular personalities took part in the film’s shooting, such as musicians Henry Rollins, Billy Corgan, Noel Gallagher, former producer and founder of the record company Chris Blackwell, former president of Sony Music Don Einer, former CEO of the American record company Hilary Rosen, and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig.
2. We Are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists
This documentary by Brian Knappenberger thematizes the activities and actions of the Hacker collective Anonymous. Formed on the internet by people who were not only dissatisfied with sociological problems and controversial issues like police brutality, internet censorship or fraudulent politicians or economic leaders but also very well versed in terms of hacking.
Anonymous started and the online activists were responsible for several spectacular actions, of which some of the most popular ones are treated in this documentary.
For example, it is shown how Anonymous was able to get access to and leak emails from Scientology-affiliated actor Tom Cruise or the former candidate for the office of the US Vice President Sarah Palin, how the hacktivists were able to conduct DDoS attacks against VISA and PayPal, their involvement in the events around the so-called Arab Spring that led to many political changes in the Middle Eastern world and Northern Africa or how Anonymous targeted Sony.
The documentary received incredibly positive reviews and is considered one of the most comprehensive documents regarding the activities of Anonymous.
3. Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy
This BBC-produced documentary from 2011 about Apple-founder and tech-guru Steve Jobs depicts Jobs’ private life and upbringing as well as his fascinating career between countercultural self-discovery and his fascination with Silicon Valley and finds explanations for Apple’s success in this area of tension.
Following his death in October this year, BBC Two began work on a documentary that is less concerned with Steve Jobs life’s work in general and instead seeks to understand the beginnings. Jobs reconciled his fascination for the slowly emerging Silicon Valley with his ideas of a Californian counterculture movement – and found his recipe for success in precisely this area of tension.
The documentary shows how, between LSD trips, his trip to India, and his time in an Oregon commune, the Apple founder came to the conviction that society had to be shaped according to new ideals. The one-hour-long documentary features early friends like Daniel Kottke, with whom Jobs traveled to India seeking enlightenment but eventually became one of Apple’s earliest employees.
It also features former Apple CEO John Sculley, whom Jobs persuaded to leave Pepsi to change the world with him. Or Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and of course, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
4. Print the Legend
Print the Legend is a 2014 documentary film by Netflix about the 3D printing revolution. It tells the birth and growth of the 3D world, with a specific focus on startups in the sector such as MakerBot Industries and Formulabs, and established companies such as Stratasys, 3D Systems, and controversial figures such as Cody Wilson, an activist who created a database of weapons printed in 3D.
The documentary tells the story of the revolution that 3D printing brought. It shows how the New York startup MakerBot industries were born and grew under the leadership of Bre Pettis, the opening of the first MakerBot stores, and at the same time shows the background of the patent infringement dispute between MIT spinoff Form labs and 3D Systems, represented by the CEO and president Avi Reichenthal.
The documentary presents probable future scenarios and dark aspects of technology, such as the story of Cody Wilson, who created the first gun. Printed in 3D called “Liberator” and published the print files on the Thing verse portal owned by MakerBot, which dissociates itself from this action.
5. NOVA: Rise of the Drones
This 2011 documentary, part of the PBS format NOVA, is about drone technology and shows how the usage of drones has revolutionized, especially in the military sector. The documentary shows how in the 21st century, drones became part of the arsenal of the US military and how the usage of drones has steadily increased.
It shows how the use of military drones can avoid the loss of human lives during military conflicts by automatizing the war, but also how it makes war a lot easier and tempting to start. It also shows how drones often fail to avoid distinguishing between civilians and enemy troops and what horrible mistakes can happen due to both the higher willingness to take risks as well as the difficulties in targeting the enemy alone.
The documentary is one of the very few professionally produced documentaries that make the usage of military drone technology its focus of interest and gives a good overview of the pros and cons of such technology as well as the potential and danger they bear.
6. The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
A 2014 biographical documentary film about Aaron Swartz, the National Security Agency, and the SOPA Act, written, directed, and produced by Brian Knappenberger. The film tells the story of Aaron Swartz, a programming prodigy and an information activist.
From the development of the RSS protocol to the co-creation of the Reddit website, Swartz, along with several activists, worried about the imminent approval of the new law, took advantage of the technologies at his disposal to create a website called Demand Progress, where he published an online petition against the law that gathered 300,000 signatures in addition to having the support of multiple websites, including Google and Wikipedia.
In 2013, Swartz committed suicide and was found dead by his girlfriend. As a result, Aaron’s story became popular outside of his already famous online community. On January 11, 2014, commemorating the first anniversary of his death, a preview of the documentary was released.
7. Indie Game: The Movie
Indie Game: The Movie is a 2012 Canadian documentary film directed by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot. The film follows Edmund McMillen’s development of the independent Super Meat Boy and Phil Fish’s Tommy Refenes and Fez. He also documents the success of Braid, developed by Jonathan Blow.
The film follows Braid, which was released in 2008 and enjoyed remarkable success, Super Meat Boy, prepared for a 2011 release, and finally, Fez’s complex development over the years. The film was financed via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.com. After two successful rounds of financing, interviews with prominent developers within the independent scene began.
After recording 300 hours (around 2 weeks) of lengthy footage, Pajot & Swirsky decided to limit the film to the four developers chosen. They wanted to show game development “past, now, and future” through each developer’s own story.
A documentary directed by Greg Kohs. It was released in 2017. The storyline depicts how far artificial intelligence can go during a game of Go when competing against the world champion of the game, Lee Sedol.
The runtime of the documentary is about an hour and a half long. The viewers get to observe the thrilling match between a computer and a human world champion; AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol, which began on March 9th, 2016.
The documentary also features background information regarding AlphaGo and its works straight from the creators themselves. The two participated in a game competition called The DeepMind Challenge. In a twist of events, the computer manages to win four out of five games, which are the key focus of the documentary.
Netflix never misses the chance to strike its viewers. Everything is available to binge-watch from horror and comedy to Tech documentaries. Just grab a large popcorn and a can of coke and enjoy these thrilling and intriguing Tech documentaries this weekend.