The Bit Player

90 mins.
Directed by Mark Levinson

Last day Thursday, April 1.

  • Platform:  Amherst Cinema via Agile Ticketing
  • Ticket price:  $7.50 for Members, $10.75 for non-Members
  • Watch window:  Your ticket unlocks the film for vieiwng between March 19 and April 4
  • How to watch:  Through the internet browser on your computer, tablet, or smart phone

Questions about Virtual Cinema? Technical issues? Check our FAQ page. 

Click here to watch the Facebook Live discussion of the film by Amherst College Professor Lee Spector recorded on Tuesday March 23rd.

In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a "bit" and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics.

But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed—juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet—than rehashing the past. Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, THE BIT PLAYER tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.

Science on Screen: Compelling films paired with lively talks by experts in science, technology and medicine.

Science on Screen® is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Lee Spector teaches and conducts research in artificial intelligence and intersections of computer science with cognitive science, physics, evolutionary biology, and the arts. He is a Professor of Computer Science at Hampshire College, Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Amherst College, Adjunct Professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines.

Professor Spector received a B.A. in Philosophy from Oberlin College, a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and the highest honor bestowed by the National Science Foundation for excellence in both teaching and research, the NSF Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. In 2015, Professor Spector presented an Amherst Cinema Science on Screen talk to accompany a screening of BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT.