The film tells two stories. One of the small group of disciples around the novelist Ayn Rand in the 1950s who saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own selfish desires. The other is the global utopia that digital entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley set out to create in the 1990s, many of whom were also disciples of Ayn Rand. They believed that the new computer networks would allow the creation of a society where everyone could follow their own desires, yet there would not be anarchy.
Part two shows how in an age disillusioned with politics, the self-regulating ecosystem has become the model for utopian ideas of human “self-organising networks”. This powerful idea emerged out of the hippie communes in America in the 1960s, and from counter-culture computer scientists who believed that global webs of computers could liberate the world. But, at the very moment this was happening, the science of ecology discovered that the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem wasn’t true.