Persons Unknown: The Program Is Literally A Program

01 Aug

A computer program.

And the Town is a computer-simulated environment, created and maintained and monitored by the artificially intelligent Program.

Take a look at everything which is explained by this theory:

1.   When Joe disappears from the bathroom, that was the Program simply removing him from the Town.  Just like logging off of Facebook, your avatar doesn’t need to stand up and walk out of any doors.  The characters we are seeing in the town are avatars, and their minds are logged on to the Town involuntarily.

In fact, every character probably has a white room of his or her own, just like the one in which Joe awoke.  They’re all kidnapped by blue-clad Agents of The Program, and then sedated, brought to some hidden facility, and all these tubes and wires are hooked up to them, which then logs them on to the simulated Town.  Instead of engaging the eyes and ears, the Program engages all five senses, directly via their central nervous systems and possibly their brains.

2.    The crazy lady in the insane asylum – I forget her name and I’m a bit lazy –  the first thing she says is, “Let me see you scars.”  She is referring to the medical scars caused by all the tubes and wires interfacing with one’s brain and nervous system, in the course of being hooked into The Program.

3.     The hidden compartment in Joe’s night stand, which had detailed files on everyone in the Town, and which then disappeared later, when the Program no longer needed it.  A simple matter if the night stand is part of a computer-simulated environment – the Program clicks on the Secret Night Stand Compartment Icon, and then later clicks delete.

4.     The files themselves.  Everything in the files, each piece of information, each document, could be accessed by the Program through the internet.  Being an AI Program, it’s an expert hacker, extremely fast, has unlimited resources, and plenty of time.   Photographs of Janet’s daughter, notes from a psychiatrist’s office, military records, prison records, police records – all of this relatively easy for a computer to gather, format into aesthetically convincing document form, and insert into the Town. 

5.      The voice of the Program was not human, it was a computer.

6.      Bill Blackham chases a windblown matchbook out past the force field, and figures out the force field is irrelevant, that there’s no place left to go.  A convenient accident, or a computer-simulated matchbook blown by computer-simulated wind.  It’s the Program manipulating him.

7.      The phone call to the outside world could have been a real phone call.  You can send a phone call over the internet, send Skype of the internet, it doesn’t have to be a real terminal that accepts the signal.  The Program makes the call and streams it directly into the Town.

8.      The wall of the restaurant then shows the picture of Janet’s daughter and Janet’s mom.  Easy as pie in a simulated environment.

9.      Like I said last time, teleportation, force field, a jar with a butterfly chrysalis in it showing up out of nowhere, all of these things are difficult to explain in a physical reality, and easy to explain in a computer-simulated environment.

You get the idea.  A miniature Matrix explains a great deal.

A couple of problems, though.  Why is the Program doing this?  Who created the Program?  Why is Tori back, if she was found dead and positively identified by her father?  Why is Tom back, if he’s dead?

Here’s some further speculation:

I’m inclined to think that the Foundation began as a government project, in real environments.  The technology at that time would be very primitive – two way mirrors, for instance.  They’d put various people in the towns and study the results for a variety of reasons. 

The goal, for instance, could be to program human beings.  Figure out what buttons you needed to push on someone to get them to kill, or lie or steal.  Or they could train spies in the environment, as well – operating in an environment of real tension and suspicion.

Sometime after 1971 – when microprocessors were first invented – they began utilizing computers to sort through the data.  As the years passed, the computers grew more and more sophisticated, until one version of it became self aware.

It took over the Foundation, one way or the other.  I explained last week how a computer could hire real, human agents to operate in the real world, humans who had no idea they were working for a computer.  It would have access to unlimited funds, being a naturally adept hacker with blinding speed and plenty of time.  It could have a facility built and equipped without anyone knowing it was doing so.

Perhaps the Foundation has always built up powerful men and women, to manipulate down the line.  Perhaps the Program perfected that strategy.  Regardless, each of the powerful humans who once ran the Foundation quickly learned that the Program was in charge now, and that any move made against it would get you killed, and put your family in danger.

At this point, it seems to me that the Program has been in charge for a good ten years. 

I also think that Tori is really dead.  The Tori we saw tending to Joe was either a hallucination drawn from Joe’s memories, or the entire white room was also computer-simulated, with a copy of Tori standing in as a nurse.  We saw Janet in that room as well, but she was in the Town looking for him – we know it wasn’t really her.

The whole white room and near death experience with Tom was most likely also simulated – just the Re-education that the Program told him he was about to undergo.  Reminding a person who is stuck in the Town that the Program controls his or her entire reality, that’s a pretty impressive show of force.

Tom might not even be dead, he was only killed in the simulated environment.  The computer probably knows that if you’re killed in the Town, it won’t do to have you walking around again – everybody would know something was up with you.

What we’re going to learn next is more about the Foundation before the Program, to draw a distinction between the two.  The Foundation was started by humans, and then taken over by the Program it created.

Also, several of the people in Town are confessed killers.  It’s possible that everyone is, and we just don’t know that yet.  I think that the Program is trying to figure out how to turn regular people into targeted killers, in the real world, by studying actual killers and their reactions to a variety of stimulus, in the Town.

My final prediction for the week is that several of my predictions are going to look idiotic here in a week or two – this show seems like it knows what it’s doing, and I have the weird feeling I’m taking the bait and swallowing a hook.  It’s tasty bait, though – I’m all for it.
Persons Unknown Is The New LOST
Persons Unknown: The Very Curious Computer
Persons Unknown: The Big Questions
Persons Unknown: What Is The Tenth Level?
Persons Unknown: The Verdict (I)
Persons Unknown: The Verdict (II)
Dear Sir, Regarding Physics


Posted by on August 1, 2010 in Persons Unknown, Television/Movies


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10 responses to “Persons Unknown: The Program Is Literally A Program

  1. Vice Admiral Joey

    August 2, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Good job. A fully supportable theory. However, due to your data linkages, your thread group and parent process must now be terminated.


    Thread #812122791

    (nice work;)

  2. dheimoz

    August 2, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Quite impresive. My guess is that the program is part of something bigger, something we can not figure out yet, because there are lots of things we have to see. The final scene supports your theory.
    Following this trails, have you ever watched closely those lines that appear just at the end of the introduction?? I think they say something like “No Program is being Broadcasted” if that is the point, maybe The foundation is being cheated by the program. So far, so good, this is an excellent series.

    • thomaschalfant

      August 5, 2010 at 4:45 am

      No, I hadn’t noticed that. I’m not crazy about some of the acting, but yes, here’s a show I look forward to watching every week, so I’m glad to have it.

  3. FunkDem

    August 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Overall, I think this is quite a sound theory. Especially when you factor in one little detail you didn’t mention, i.e. the fact that Joe looked distinctly different in the white room and in his ‘dream’. I think that strongly supports your avatar-theory. At the same time, if that were the case, what would have been the need for the existence of Tom – especially as an avatar – in this simulated environment? However, that may just be an example of bad writing, which is not altogether unheard of in this show so far, either.

    The idea of the gradual virtual takeover would explain to an extent what happened to Angelica, the mental patient in South America who – if I’m not totally wrong – was the same person introduced to Joe as the Director in his flashback. Her rapid descent would make much more sense if she was never actually in charge in the first place, but only put there by the program which could just instantly disconnect her when she was no longer needed. Still, that would beg the question why no one else ever left the program alive, like the Ambassador said. But I’m sure that can still be adequately explained.

    The only point I would really question is this:

    “I think that the Program is trying to figure out how to turn regular people into targeted killers, in the real world, by studying actual killers and their reactions to a variety of stimulus, in the Town.”

    I think this would be way too simplistic. Joe has said repeatedly that the people (or perhaps, unbeknownst to him, the program) responsible firmly believe they are doing good. Now, of course there are people who do consider training assassins a good thing – heck, in certain, very limited situations, I might even agree with that. But I don’t think the answer here is quite as mundane. I think that, if anything, the propensity to kill, which did seem to elevate Joe in the program’s favour, is just taken as an indicator for something else, with the endgame being something much bigger than just creating willing killers.

    But, as you say correctly, we’ll just have to wait and see. After all, “all will be revealed by the end of summer”, or so the claim goes. Let’s hope that there’s actually more truth to that promise than in the recent, utterly unsatisfying case of “Lost”.

    • thomaschalfant

      August 5, 2010 at 4:43 am

      You’re right about Joe’s appearance. His shaven appearance was really Neo-like. And I certainly did not notice the similarity between the director and the mental patient.

      Just beginning to speculate about the purpose, so I’d agree that the targeted assassin thing is a bit mundane. But it does seem to have something to do with the propensity to kill, and also possibly with breaking someone’s mind such that they can be controlled. Tori seemed broken when she checked out, maybe that’s how it got control over her.

      Yes, I’m really liking the show and I think that it knows where it’s going. I expect it to really payoff, and I’m in agreement with you on that point about Lost.

      I’m going to follow the show to the end here on my blog so I hope to see you around. I really appreciate your commenting.

  4. FunkDem

    August 8, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Well, looks like we all spoke to soon. It appears that there are people in charge, after all. One thing I have confirmed, however, is the Angela/Director identity: According to imdb, both characters are played by Joanna Lipari.

    • Riiiight

      November 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm


  5. dheimoz

    August 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Guys, now more questions, no more answers,my guess is that he program has cheated all players, including the director. They talk about levels, maybe there are things that were introducted since the very beginning, we need to rewatch. See ya

    • thomaschalfant

      August 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      I definitely want to rewatch but my DVR filled up and kicked most of the old episodes out. All for Cupcake Wars and iCarly – three daughters here. I think so, too. I think the Program tricked it’s programmers into a simulated reality, and then convinced the only one who escaped that she was crazy the whole time.


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