Courtesy of Computer Chess LLC

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

In 1997, a computer beat a human at chess for the first time.  Gary Kasparov was reputedly the best chess player of his time but an IBM program named Deep Blue wore him down. It was a landmark moment for technology and is one of the seminal moments of the digital age. Director Andrew Bujalski, most famous for inaugurating the “Mumblecore” genre in the 1990s—wanted to find the root of that moment, and it took him to the obscure nerd culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

circuit bending
Scott Pham / KBIA

When you imagine a hacker, you’re probably thinking of someone banging away at a keyboard, doing something shadowing and illegal on the internet.  These days a lot of hackers are banding together, and it’s far from illegal.  They’re forming groups called hackerspaces--community workshops where hackers (some of whom prefer the term “makers”) get together to build robots, modify electronics and socialize.