Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Billion Dollar Code

Ideas are fluid.  The concept for a wheel seems pretty basic, but undoubtedly many different ancestors first noticed that round things go further than square or other rough shapes.  It may have taken a while before someone tried to figure out an axle and there may have been many different variations before we stumbled on what is familiar today.  Along the way the wheel expanded its use and we see a rotating circle with many mechanical applications.  The whole idea of rotation was tied up into other concepts.  We take it for granted and pity those who somehow were slow to using wheels.

 "The Billion Dollar Code" (2021) is a fictional account of a real legal battle that was lost by the German team.  They make a good case and will earn your sympathy.  After someone is able to develop an idea into something commercial, entrepreneurs and lawyers soon get involved.  This is not all bad as society needs to sort out inevitable disputes and to encourage other beneficial developments.

Two German men in Berlin pushed ahead attempting what was considered impossible.  Carsten is a bit of a computer geek who uses his talent for dance videos and stumbles on Juri who is more of a programmer.  They have a lot in common and enjoy each other company.  Juri has found a way to steal and hack use of computers much more expensive than he could afford.  Carsten is the salesman of the two and persuades some key investors to give them a chance to develop something new.

The something new is a program they call Terra Earth which really is ahead of its time.  On the computer you can point to anywhere and and get a close look at it.  They had limited resources, but at one stage they contacted Brian Anderson, the software engineer for Google and he was impressed.  Over the course of a few years they visited each other with Juri seemingly having a practical relationship exchanging ideas.

A few years later Google came out with Google Earth and a close examination revealed a very close copy of the original Terra Earth.  The focus of the series is a court case which takes up close to half the time.  It is in Delaware, United States, where many such corporate issues are resolved.

One of the interesting points was how Google makes money.  Google Earth is free, but allows Google to gather data and analyze it for advertising.  We are looking at hundreds of millions of dollars.  With this money at stake both sides hire very expensive lawyers and expert witnesses.  In the case of the Germans they are coached by a witness preparation expert.  This shows us some strategies to deal with the high priced lawyers with sophisticated questioning techniques. 

To be honest it seemed like an open and shut case and the script writer gave us an alternative ending that  seemed believable, but it is a German film.  In reality they lost the case which was shown at the end.  I don't pretend to understand the technical points, but it was a jury decision.  In the end one of the lawyers left by a driverless trolley car meant to demonstrate the future holds many developments.

The value of the movie is to understand that such disputes are easy to imagine when various parties discuss ideas.  We do need systems in place to adjudicate.  We also need systems to encourage collaborations.  Few ideas, if any come out of nowhere, although they may seem to.  At some point one person or group of persons take the action that brings something in fruition.   

Robert Thalheim was the director. and an executive producer  He has won European awards for tv. series.

Oliver Ziegenbalg was the writer for this most interesting script.

For each of the two main characters there were two actors to reflect a difference in age of decades.

Carsten as a young adult was played by Leonard Scheicher.  Another series he was in is  "Das Boot" (2018), which is a remake of a classic, "Das Boot" ((1981).

As a more mature man Carsten was playd by Mark Waschke who has been in numerous films and series including "Barbara" (2012), "Generation War" (2013) and "A Hidden Life" (2019).

The young Juri was played by Marius Ahrendt while the older Juri played by Misel Maticevic

Lavinia Wilson played the lead lawyer for the Germans.  She is fluent in English, as her father is an American archaeologist.  She has performed over 60 mostly German films, winning European acting awards

Lukas Loughran played the American software boss, Brian Anderson is actually Swedish.  He has played in Swedish and English roles

Seumas F. Sargent played the second German lawyer althoug in born in America has performed around the world and is fluent in English and Dutch.  He was one of the Blue Men in the off Broadway production where he played the drums.  One film of his I have seen is from Finland, "Tom of Finland" ((2017).

I highly recommend this series currently available on Netflix for its very high professionalism and for the issues that will concern us more in the future.

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