This show begs for speculation, so I will now shamelessly speculate as I watch the last episode for about the sixth time.
I’m trying to find a problem with my idea that much of the show takes place in a simulated reality. I’m not finding one. I’m also trying to find a problem with the idea that all of the people at the meeting of The Institute, with the weirdly pointless but weirdly cool cameo by Robert Picardo, are all AI programs.
Not much to work with, but in terms of speculation, I’m not finding a problem there either. Whoever they are at the Institute, they have seemingly limitless resources and an intense interest in the decisions and thought processes of human beings, especially in relation to morality.
I’ll bet they’ve grown in power at exactly the same rate as computers in the last twenty-five years. A novelty at first, efficient and quick but limited in scope, and so the government, or the Foundation or Whoever’s idea this Program was – they entrusted a great deal to the Program, since programs had always been easy to control.
In the mid-eighties, they activated this digital reproduction of the crazy lady from the asylum. The lady wasn’t crazy yet, but that drove her crazy. So maybe the AI program can inhabit her body sometimes, and the rest of the time she chills out in an insane asylum.
I think that what the programs are doing is creating other programs as their own children and then not telling them that they are programs. They are attempting to develop a higher form of AI, one that can inhabit a physical human being’s brain.
I’ll bet that there are some people in the “real” world who have AI brains. All of the people who woke up in the town are real people with AI brains, except possibly Joe.
The big question I had was when is the show in the real world and when is it in a computer simulation?
I think there’s a good chance that the Men In Blue are in the real world. When you see them, that was real.
In the final episode, notice that the loss of consciousness frequently precedes the arrival of the Director. A lot of people wake up in mysterious places – I think when that happens, it usually means they’ve been inserted into the simulation.
So for instance Kat finds herself in a little box guarded by Men In Blue – real world. There’s the Ambassador – he’s in the real world, too.
Janet at her Mom’s house – real world. The Director is an AI program but she can make phone calls. Janet’s Mom knows the Director from their involvement in the Program years ago. Perhaps Janet has an AI brain or something – the show kind of begs me to speculate.
There’s Graham in the white room – simulated. I think Graham’s a computer program. He doesn’t know it, that’s all. But we didn’t see him once after the van crash, there was no escape and no illusion of escape. And remember, he’s the guy who said that he’d encountered technology like the Pain Wall in the military.
The Pain Wall is one of the main things that made me think the Town was simulated in the first place.
The Program could be like a virus – it’s trying to adapt itself to biology. When Blackham and Charlie end up in the desert, Blackham knows Charlie’s wife’s name. Because he’s got the Program in him now? Blackham kind of submitted to the Program at one point, right? He acknowledged that he had nothing without the Program, and so maybe that was the point where the Program could gain access to his brain.
That’s what the Program is trying to do – change people’s brains in such a way that it can inhabit their bodies. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and they end up with imperfect simulations, like Tori and the first Night Manager, and the second Night Manager as well.
The Tenth Level is a perfect simulation. A human walking the Earth with the Program in charge of it, undetectable. That’s what the Program is after. That’s why they run all these crazy simulations.
I’ll bet Janet has an AI brain and doesn’t even know it. And possibly Mark Renbe as well – though we don’t even know for sure it’s his baby. If Janet has an AI brain, then she could have been switched off and impregnated artificially with anyone’s sperm. Gross, but true.
So that’s why Janet’s Mom gave her back – she had to. There was no way for Janet and her Program Daughter to hide. So she gave them one night sleeping in each other’s arms and then the Blue Guys came in, plugged her back into the simulation at Level Two.
Maybe the Program wanted to show her – you’ll never get your daughter back in such a way that I can’t take her away from you. Janet seemed like she understood that, too.
The Ship would then be about the next level of consciousness that the AI programs have to ascend to. I would bet blind that this links somehow into Ken Wilber and his mighty Spectrum of Consciousness. The AI programs have to learn to care about themselves, and then each other, and then a community, and then all communities, and then all life, and then everything that is at all and could ever be.
That sort of thing.
But I’ll tell you what, if this show got picked up by SyFy or something, I’d be pretty excited about it, and I would be watching it and writing about it. This wasn’t a bunch of random weirdness – this show knew what it was doing, and it’s a shame it probably won’t get the chance to do it.
I think I would actually recommend it now, having watched it over and over. I’m kind of surprised myself.