Traditional television may not be as practical as streaming services anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the big networks can’t churn out interesting concepts on occasion. This seems to be the case with a new show debuting next year on Fox. Called neXt, the trailer shows off a world where digital assistants are normal and seeking out their help as part of your daily life is completely natural. Speaking at what is essentially a TED talk, however, is a leading head of a major tech company, who talks about the dangers society is facing.
Alexa knock offs aren’t the only thing that big tech is working on, he says, and among these other innovations is artificial intelligence. By searching for ways to make tech smarter and seem more human, the tech mogul warns that humanity risks creating something that is smarter than they are and cannot be controlled. From there the trailer devolves into chaos as, predictably, the tech moguls warnings turn out to be prescient and an AI starts to make its presence known in the world. People die, computers are hacked and erased and the cities power grid gets shut down as people rush to combat the rising threat.
Though this may seem like a stock sci-fi plot line (something the show seems to mention and make fun of in the trailer, I might add) the parallels to today are something that make it a little bit more interesting. Though artificial intelligence has not yet made it so far to be a threat to human kind, we are seeing it advance at a rapid pace. Recently scientists have taught an AI to see like a human, have gotten one to write a scientific textbook and have even been able to teach them to mimic voices, even to the point of having an ai speak in your voice in a language you don’t know. The future is coming and it’s a little bit scary.
One of the more disturbing similarities between the show and real life may be the fact that it is a tech leader that is warning the world about the dangers of artificial intelligence. Those invested in tech news or who follow leaders in the industry may remember those times we were warned about AI being the end of mankind by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates. That’s a short list of some of the most brilliant tech minds to walk the planet, and all of them have expressed serious concerns about AI. Could neXt be a glimpse of the near future for us considering everything that is similar to real life?
Probably not. While AI has advanced quite a bit, it is not at the SkyNet level just yet. Still, it is a plausible look at the near future if we don’t pay attention to the advancements around us, and seems like a genuinely interesting premise the goes beyond just another sci fi plot. So, enjoy your human freedom while they last and check out the trailer for neXt.
Caleb Edwards is a senior studying professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. When he isn’t working or writing you can find him tending his fish, taking care of his cats and dogs or trying to find free time that he can waste (there never is any). You can follow him on Twitter @CEdwardsSam or find him at his website CalebMEdwards.com