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Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Peripheral 1.5: The AI Therapist

The mention of an "AI therapist" caught my attention in the first few minutes of The Peripheral 1.5 on Amazon Prime Video tonight.  It reminded me of Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA program at MIT in, what, our late nonfiction 1960s?  His program passed the test of being believed to be a human psychologist by subjects who communicated with it and didn't know they were exchanging information with a  cleverly programmed computer.

Information is what this episode, which continued to be excellent, was all about.  (Makes sense, in an episode of a series which is prime cyberpunk.)  In one of the best scenes, Flynne explains to her mother that she did not get her medicine from the future.  Rather, Flynn got information in the future about how to make this powerful medicine, which in a nice touch was "printed" (Flynne's word) on a 3-D printer.

Flynne goes on travel to the future -- informationally -- to ask Wilf he was trying to seduce her via the haptic union they had, and he either plays dumb or honestly tells her he has no idea what she's talking about.  Meanwhile, it becomes palpably clear, once again, that not just information can travel from the future to the past when a car materializes and crashes into the police car carrying the Irish assassin with an ok American accent.   But did the car that hit the police car really come from the future, just like the coffee container a few episodes back, or was the car printed in the past (which is more or less the present in the story), and somehow teleported to collide with the police car?   Come to think of it, could the coffee have come from a current printer, too?  With all those expresso commercials with fancy machines on TV these days with Brad Pitt, somehow the idea of 3-D printing coffee doesn't seem that absurd.

It's almost enough to get you to a therapist, though an AI therapist in this case likely wouldn't be the best.  Speaking of which, the episode ends -- apologies, I didn't advise you about spoilers -- with Flynne's avatar in the future rendering the powerful Cherise into unconsciousness in a fight.  So, how did Flynne become such a proficient fighter?   Maybe she picked up some useful martial information from the future.

See also The Peripheral 1.1-1.2: Cyberpunk, Time Travel, and Alternate Reality ... 1.3: John Snow ... 1.4 Who Took Lev's Tea?

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