The Whelk – John Leavitt

June 24, 2009

Same goes for ER

Filed under: Scenes From Nonexistent Novels — John Leavitt @ 12:15 pm

I have a theory that Law & Order isn’t so much a show as it’s a living thing, a memeorganism if you will, the byproduct of an alien intelligence.

Okay so the suits and squares of the TV industry are constantly tinkering with screenwriting technology,  desperately trying to find and automate foolproof formulas for successful shows.  They hit upon the idea of sponsoring a universities’ AI project provided that it be taught  to write police dramas. The networks would provide the detailed “dark” Nelson Ratings for the last 40 years (what, you didn’t think they just recorded who watched did you?) for the AI to process and interpret.  The result is  Law& Order.

The “screenwriters” are just interns who correct and connect together the AI’s generated scenes into episodes. It’s a smash and they soon expand the AI to make casting decisions, run the basic scheduling and hiring, and even compose the music.  E-mail and cellphones  just made the project easier and the people on the ground, the directors and actors and such, loved the “hands-off” nature of the higher-ups. Nothing worse than a producer on set and you didn’t even have to suck up to them or go to their obnoxious parties.

Soon however, the AI began to expand  and needed new algorithms and devices to generate more content. One can almost say it decided to grow. So you have the spin-offs and the meta-spin-offs and so on. Parts of the AI were sold to other shows,  but Law & Order remained the complete possession of the AI. The AI grew bigger, more stable, more coherent and complex with each iteration. Once they got remote-controlled cameras, the AI was actually directing the show, making decisions based on thousands of hours of previously shot footage.

Watched closely enough, the various iterations of Law & Order reveal the AI’s own mind, not just its processes but its biases and desires. Imagine watching the dreams of the comatose unfold before you. That is Law & Order, the subconscious of an emerging mind, using the material world as the means to an end, as a way to make things, to dream.

Pray it doesn’t wake up.

*dong dong*


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