Home Artificial Intelligence Let’s discuss ‘Mrs. Davis’ and the show’s wild approach to AI

Let’s discuss ‘Mrs. Davis’ and the show’s wild approach to AI

Let’s discuss ‘Mrs. Davis’ and the show’s wild approach to AI

Set in an alt-near future reality, Peacock’s newest original series, “Mrs. Davis,” releasing on April 20, is edging toward being just a little too believable — minus the kidnapping Germans, an elusive Holy Grail and a life-threatening enterprise inside a gargantuan whale.

The show centers around an all-knowing AI that’s designed to satisfy its users, sending them on quests that give them a way of purpose and making them feel like all their problems are finally solved.

We spoke with “Mrs. Davis” co-creators, Damon Lindelof and Tara Hernandez, to seek out out more about why they were inspired to film a show where AI wants to regulate our lives.

Lindelof, the co-creator of “Lost,” and Hernandez, mainly known for her work on “The Big Bang Theory,” were introduced to one another through the peak of COVID and brainstormed ideas that might eventually change into “Mrs. Davis.”

The showrunners identified that the show was dreamed up three years before ChatGPT launched to the general public.

“It’s really interesting. Not that we were ahead of the curve, however it’s kind of…taking it to the subsequent level. As you’re well aware, [AI] is moving at a reasonably quantum rate immediately,” Lindelof told us.

Initially, the co-creators had thought of centering the show’s conflict around an app that would help determine which COVID activities were secure and people who weren’t, in keeping with the most recent COVID rules.

They then spiraled further and thought up an app that would provide relationship advice, skilled guidance and — as crazy because it sounds — replaces religion altogether. This then evolved into the “Mrs. Davis” AI.

Lindelof mentioned to us that he consumed a whole lot of news related to AI and listened to podcasts like “Rabbit Hole,” which talks about how the web impacts our lives.

The book, “You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How AI Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place” by Janelle Shane also got here out around the identical time they were writing the show, which each Lindelof and Hernandez enjoyed reading. (Shane is an optics research scientist and AI researcher who runs a humor blog called AI Weirdness.)

“It felt just like the author kind of had this relationship together with her algorithm and would teach it things and it felt not unlike raising a pet, you realize, and a very funny one at that,” said Hernandez. “So, I believe that basically informed us that algorithms could possibly be super dumb and silly and that we found enjoyment of the actual fact once they are since it makes us feel just a little higher about our position in society.”

Hernandez and Lindelof also chosen individuals with diverse backgrounds to assist write the show, including those with experience in tech.

“Once we got the green light to proceed with our initial pitch, we put together a author’s room, and we made sure that the backgrounds and the experiences of our writers were unlike our own,” Hernandez added. “We had Jonny Sun, a author who goes to MIT, and Nadra Widatalla comes from a gaming background…they really became our guides in these worlds that we, ourselves were perhaps unfamiliar with.”

Sun is a Ph.D. candidate at MIT with a background in machine learning and evolutionary robotics.

Not only did Sun help expand plot points and write a couple of episodes for the show, but he also developed an algorithm that generated episode titles.

“We’d feed [the algorithm] an episode synopsis within the prompt box, like here’s three or 4 sentences about what happens in episode three of ‘Mrs. Davis.’ After which the script for that episode. So this algorithm can actually read and understand what a story was after which give us a title,” Lindelof explained to TechCrunch.

“But then we realized it didn’t know what a title was… there have been titles that were 35 words or 100 words.”

It ultimately took months to program, and Sun trained several models before the team landed on a favourite algorithm.

“It made up its own language… episode two features these Germans, so there’s [a title] that seems like it could possibly be German,” Hernandez said. “We’re big fans of the strange, weird and just almost-right-but-indecipherably-wrong ‘unhuman’ quality of algorithmically generated language, and wanted our episode titles to feel that way, reflecting the weirdness of ‘Mrs. Davis’ and the uncanny, surreal, but additionally poignant, tone of our series.”

Some examples of AI-generated episode titles include:

  • Ep.2: Zwei Sie Piel mit Seitung Sie Wirtschaftung
  • Ep.3: A Baby with Wings, A Sad Boy with Wings and a Great Helmet
  • Ep.5: A Great Place to Drink to Gain Control of Your Drink
  • Ep.7: Great Gatsby 2001: A Space Odyssey

(The next a part of this TechCrunch story may contain spoilers.)

“Mrs. Davis” is a wacky vision of an AI future

Artificial intelligence has come a good distance since machine learning and is becoming increasingly embedded in our every day lives. With the snowballing ubiquity of algorithms and the present rise of generative AI tools, the show actually addresses a timely topic.

After watching all eight episodes of Mrs. Davis, we’ve to say it’s one in all the wackier shows that we’ve seen in an extended time. We won’t reveal an excessive amount of, but let’s just say it made our brains hurt just a little. (But in an excellent way, we suppose?)

On this “Black Mirror”-esque show, Mrs. Davis has seemingly eliminated the necessity for social media apps, distracting its 4 billion users from the world’s issues with a gamified reward system. It sends its users out on quests until they eventually earn their “wings,” which offer a way of status (very like a verification mark).

These wings are almost not possible to get, which is why Mrs. Davis offers a shortcut. If a user wants easy wings, they have to give it their life.

Cue dramatic, dystopian music.

Image Credits: Peacock

TechCrunch spoke with the foremost solid, which incorporates Betty Gilpin (Sister Simon), Jake McDorman (Wiley), and Chris Diamantopoulos (JQ).

All three characters have personal vendettas against Mrs. D.

Sister Simone, the protagonist, is a nun that hates the algorithm since it took away her parents’ livelihood and — in her eyes — is accountable for her father’s death.

Before the algorithm was created, Simone’s parents were magicians. Nevertheless, Mrs. Davis took away the curiosity behind magic because it gave users all of the answers. Consumed with vengeance, Simone teams up with a resistance group to try to destroy it.

Throughout the show, we see Mrs. D talking to Simone through its cult-like followers (a.k.a. users). Each time Mrs. D desires to tell her something, the user asks Simone in the event that they can “proxy” or repeat what the algorithm is saying through their earphones.

We asked Gilpin what she thought of algorithms and AI before the show and what she thinks of them now.

“Before we were filming and even once we were filming, ChatGPT wasn’t really a thing… It wasn’t within the headlines prefer it is now,” Gilpin told us. “Now I even have a reasonably healthy fear of it, where I used to think it was kind of this area of interest thing that smarter people than I’m were concerned about. I believe now I’m kind of asking the identical query that Simone asks within the series, which is, ‘Is that this an incredible thing for society or is that this poison?’ I don’t know.”

“I understand the impulse in a world where, particularly within the pandemic once we had so many questions and no answers…to follow something that purports to have all of the answers. But that’s against the aim of being alive…having a robot attempt to sidestep those moments in life for us… It might be helpful in curing disease, but when it comes to interfering with human interaction and being existential, being an individual of religion or the intangible, I don’t think those are things that I’m willing to offer up,” she added.

Like Simone, Wiley and JQ are also personally affected by Mrs. D and dedicate their lives to ending the algorithm once and for all.

Wiley, who’s Simone’s ex-boyfriend, leads this resistance group, alongside his friend and confidant, JQ. They enlist a team of tech nerds to construct an off-grid, “top-secret” hideout equipped with a sophisticated server that — to their knowledge — Mrs. Davis can’t access.

There’s even a bit throughout the series where Wiley and JQ have an countless supply of burner flip phones, breaking them after each call to avoid suspicion. (Albeit wasteful, it’s also hilarious.)

“It’s a physical manifestation of the paranoia that ‘The Big D’ is in all places, and as a way to avoid and to repeatedly scramble and make sure that that [Mrs. Davis] is just not anywhere intercepting any of those calls or ahead of us, we break the phone to interrupt a signal after the decision is finished,” Diamantopoulos told us.

“It’s like in those old World War II movies when the French Resistance would meet under candlelight in a small bar somewhere in like north of Berlin, they usually’d have the names of those German generals written on a chunk of paper, after which they’d light a cigarette and light-weight it on fire,” he explained.

What’s so great about this show is that it never takes itself too seriously, whether that’s the way it portrays Mrs. D or all of the outrageous tasks the AI assigns to Simone and Wiley.

“Once I got the script, it was clear that this was like five different genres in a single,” McDorman said.

“There have been elements of an adventure story, science fiction, obviously with an algorithm, just a little little bit of a rom-com, definitely comedy and in addition drama. I believe I said this to Damon [Lindelof] — and I mean this in the easiest way — it’s like a game of Mad Libs that just got uncontrolled. So yeah, something that’s that unique and that original and never afraid to take big swings like that is clearly exciting and rare to return across.”

The show takes us down many theme-driven roads, including religion, spirituality, toxic masculinity and a few serious mommy issues. Nevertheless, the central theme focuses on how technology rules our lives.

Nevertheless, Lindelof and Hernandez wish to add that “Mrs. Davis” isn’t an anti-technology show. It is simply meant to encourage viewers to discuss it.

“Mrs. Davis was at all times intended to impress discussion. To be an exploration. To ask the query: Is that this really good for us? Is that this helping me or hurting me? Which is why it felt like such a natural pairing to center the series on a nun — who can also be going through the identical type of exploration because it pertains to her faith,” said Hernandez.

Peacock will release the primary 4 episodes of Mrs. Davis on April 20.



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