Person Of Interest: Living In A World Controlled By Samaritan

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Person of interest
Photo: Courtesy Of CBS

Warning: Spoiler Alert

In order for any human society to work, we need rules and laws, we’re not an enlightened enough species, to expect all to do the right thing without any guidance. Not killing one’s mother and father, should place near the top of the list of taboos, yet the act’s been committed countless times, even with laws in place. Evil will always exist on our world, finding the balance to keep those people in line, while not making rules too onerous for most folks to live with is the key to a just and fair society.

Of just importance, if not more so, men and women need freedom in order to prosper and evolve. Stories of people throwing off the yoke of tyranny, have inspired others throughout the generations to follow suit. As society’s grown, so have tyrants, from land-barons, to royalty and during the last few hundred years, countries have struggled under the rule of tyrants and despots.

Since the late 19th Century, machines have gained prominence in our lives, starting with labor-intensive devices, that helped farmers with their crops, eventually changing the face of manufacturing, with the speed and provision they provided. Jobs were lost along the way, as these machines made staffs smaller, by doing the work once provided by men or women.

Soon machines became every-day necessities in the home, with washing machines, vacuum-cleaners, refrigerators, radios and TV-Sets, sprung up in homes across the planet. As humanity evolved, so did our machines, to the point that by 1990, personal computers were in a large segment of American homes. Today computers are omnipresent, one can easily be connected to the Internet, from the moment they open their eyes, until it’s time for bed.

For over eighty-years, authors have delved into the world of our own creations, time and again coming up with apocryphal tales, of societies, where the technology controls humanity, instead of these machines working for societies. Some tales have evil geniuses building machines to help them rule the world, others filled with machines that simply evolved far quicker than its designers did and they now rule all of humanity.

The CBS series “Person Of Interest,” are in the midst of exploring a story-line, in which an Artificial Intelligence System, known as Samaritan has started the process to take over every aspect of society, a force to clean up what it’s labeled as a cesspool of a society, filled with crime, corruption and hunger. The intelligence system aims to reshape our realities and in the process, eliminate all the evils that it sees taking place.

On the surface, that sounds pretty cool, however what are the methods Samaritan would use to achieve its goal. A scenario, brought up in the most recent episode “The Cold War,” was a system intent on helping mankind, in an effort to eradicate world-hunger, would kill off millions of people around the planet, thus leaving plenty for those survivors. Artificial Intelligence Systems, don’t share the values of humanity, they lack our sympathy and empathy and are emotionless, every decision’s made on what seems most logical to the system.

Lets create a scenario, that an Artificial Intelligence System predicts a 92% chance that Tom will murder Betty within the next 24-hours, so the system intercedes and kills Tom before he can act. Sure, the system may have saved an innocent life, but there’s still an 8% chance he wouldn’t have acted, most of that based upon emotions Tom felt at the time. Perhaps he’d seen the error of his ways and proposed to change the way he behaved, but never got to fulfill it due to the math of that system.

Catastrophes cause people to desire order, even the Italian despot Mussolini, received praise from his citizens for finally getting the trains to arrive on time. But what are you willing to give up for that sense of structure? Would you stop reading books, listening to music, or watch movies or TV, because the government frowned on it. Would you alter your beliefs, renounce your faith, pledge allegiance to the system even over your family?

Although we’ve shown concern and worry about the pitfalls of such a society, we’re standing right at the edge at this point in time. The Patriot Act and the NDAA have lessened our Constitutional rights, in the wake of 9/11 and 68% of Americans polled, stated they’d gladly give up privacy in order to ensure more safety. Every day our digital thumb prints get larger and larger, as we give more and more information to the Internet, barely thinking most of the time what will happen to that information.

The series creator, Jonathan Nolan’s upped his game since the revelations uncovered when Edward Snowden released a slew of documents, showing that the Government has had all of us under surveillance. He took an anthology procedural show with a gimmick, the use of modern technology to keep tabs on people and altered it over the last couple of seasons. We’ve witnessed corruption and misuse of power in the government as well as the private sector. We’ve seen the ever-growing fear of terrorism rearing its head in this country, put the government in the company of unsavory characters, in hopes of protection.

Nolan’s saying that we can’t become too reliant on these systems, as they could overtake us eventually. Instead of serving man, man would be serving the technology. Three chapters of “The Matrix,” were more than enough, we don’t need another version in reality.

Person Of Interest Returns on Tuesday January 6, at 10:00 pm on CBS.

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