Let me premise this blog post by saying that I am legitimately terrified of artificial intelligence taking over the world and killing us all. Some people believe in the zombie apocalypse; I believe in the future destruction of the human race by the hands of vindictive robots. So, naturally, I like to watch shows about artificial intelligence rebelling… There’s a show on AMC and that can be streamed through Amazon Prime called Humans. Synthetic humans, or synths as they are called, are human-looking robots programmed to help run society. Synths can be used as nannies, traffic guards, medical personnel, and other service occupations. Some synths are prostitutes. Basically, some of the synths are “conscious,” where they have been illegally programmed to be human-like, to have emotions and choice. If synths start to malfunction or revolt by gaining conscious thought, they are supposed to be unprogrammed and reported to prevent a robotic uprising. A group of synths programmed to be conscious are the stars of the show: Anita/Mia works for a family after capture and “reprogramming” to fix her. She has to hide the fact that she’s conscious to the family in fear of being destroyed. Niska, a prostitute, rebels and murders a client; and Fred, a known conscious synth by his companion, aids in the search for the other conscious synths before they’re reprogrammed or destroyed.
Even in this very basic synopsis of the show (for real, go watch it!), there are clear similarities between this world and the one in He, She, and It. Both the cyborgs in the book and the conscious synths in the show are illegal; both can be programmed for the convenience of humans; and both have the potential to revolt, feel emotion, and have a semblance of free will. The thought of robots infiltrating humans (and ultimately end the human race, obviously) is scary, and like how we discussed in class, this “uncanny valley” makes the thought of AI with human-like tendencies and characteristics worse. I’m interested in seeing where the similarities continue and where the book and show have differences. Really, I just want to know which one is going to give me the most nightmares.
The trailer for the show is below. Even here you can see similarities of the two media pieces. I’d love to know reactions about how the synths are portrayed in the trailer and if you see and parallels or diversions between the book and show.
Piercy, Marge. He, She, and It: a Novel. New York, Knopf, 1991.