Seen & Heard: Mrs Davis and other tech misadventures

The CPX team freaks out about AI, explores stories of “efficiency” run amok, and probes our tech utopias.

The apocalypse will be … boring. 

Or so says Charlie Warzel, tech journalist for The Atlantic. He means that AI won’t put you out of a job or take over the world, so much as overstuff your inbox and give you more mind-numbing tasks to complete. 

Other people in the know about AI are less optimistic. Geoffrey Hinton, the “godfather” of AI who resigned from Google in May, Sam Altman, the CEO of the company behind ChatGPT, and others have sounded the alarm: AI is progressing too quickly, no one knows exactly how it works, and without careful regulation it will upend life as we know it.  

There are a lot of unknowns where technology is concerned. One thing we do know, though, is it makes for great TV, and stories and books. 

In this edition of Seen & Heard, the CPX team debriefs on what they’ve been watching and reading.  

Natasha takes us through the twists and turns of Amazon Prime’s Mrs Davis, a “bonkers” show about a nun facing off against Mrs Davis, the all-knowing algorithm against whom she has a grudge.  

Simon looks at the way George Saunders’ short story “Escape from Spiderhead” (and the Spiderhead film based on it) explores how “the greater good” is used to justify all kinds of evils.  

Justine looks closer at the digital utopia on offer in Grace Chan’s speculative novel Every Version of You, and finds that its promise of agelessness, no death, no suffering, and no body is basically heaven without God.  



ABC article on Replika 

Every Version of You by Grace Chan 

Escape From Spiderhead by George Saunders (via The New Yorker) 

Mrs Davis trailer 

Her and a Disembodied Future by Mark Stephens 

Andy Crouch’s Richard Johnson Lecture on why technology keeps disappointing us and Q&A 

Charlie Warzel: Here’s how AI will come for your job