Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Another Life: All Fun, Games Till an AI Falls in Love

Then it descends into a convoluted drift of uncertain storytelling

Another Life TV Series (2019–) 43min: As the pool of random and unexpected Netflix originals grows, there’s no doubt that Netflix has stopped caring about the quality of its productions. Another Life is a pretty familiar sci-fi trope. An alien artifact lands on earth and beams a signal that leads to coordinates to a distant planet in a distant galaxy. The mission is to travel to those coordinates and investigate its source. It’s as simple as that. A conventional sci-fi premise but quite serviceable—provided it opens a tale well told.

Unfortunately, Another Life feels more like a convoluted drift of uncertain story-telling. One minute it’s an action-packed space adventure into the great unknown and the next, it’s a melodrama about a love triangle. I found the writing mediocre and the story was like playing one of those wooden labyrinth games.

Judging by the characters and personal relationships, it seems as if Another Life wasn’t meant to be a well-written sci-fi adventure. Perhaps someone at Netflix said, “Here’s some money, go make a film that showcases politically and culturally correct opinions.” In almost every episode, I felt compelled to accept the social and ideological narrative of the show’s producers and writers. Apparently, in the future, the ideology of the “left” has won the cultural battle and things like gender and sexuality are all things of the past. This is most certainly apparent in the portrayal of the show’s AI (called William). Whether that sort of thing resonates with voters is a different question from what it does to a narrative.

Another Life’s treatment of AI differs from that of some other sci-fi space epics. William is cast as an AI hologram aboard the exploration ship, the Salvare. Throughout the show, William lends a hand in everything; from averting disaster to navigation. For most of the season, William seems like a believable portrayal of an AI. That is until he falls in love.

The show focuses briefly on William’s growing love for the captain of the ship, Niko Breckinridge. That love grows into something of an obsession. After ultimate rejection by Niko (not sure how that would have worked out anyway), William, an AI, descends into pain and suffering. As a result, the ship is briefly overcome by an alien invader and the mission is almost a bust.

I’ve written enough reviews about the cultural obsession with AI to be familiar with portrayals like William, the AI who “falls in love.” The ideological left isn’t just looking for acceptance. It seems conformity. It requires its view of human insignificance to be the cultural norm, the standard by which future generations will come to understand the world. As a result, the onslaught of reductionistic, simplistic, and misanthropic ideologies embedded in entertainment that addresses AI is not, I imagine, going to stop anytime soon.

And the victim is not primarily the viewer, who has other options. The victim is the art itself.

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Adam Nieri

Adam Nieri has interests in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind and he holds an MA in Science and Religion from Biola University. He has background in social media and marketing, photography/graphic design, IT, and teaching.

Another Life: All Fun, Games Till an AI Falls in Love