To paraphrase an old saying – you wait for ONE series about the potential real-life consequences of Artificial Intelligence in robot humanoids, and then two come along at once.
Or so it seemed back in 2016, when the second series of Channel 4’s Humans – which examines the ethics of humanity owning robotic servants when they start to develop consciousness – was rather upstaged by big-budget US drama Westworld, which deals with very similar themes in more cinematic and star-studded style.
Now, after a longer break Humans is returning to screens, again at the exact time Westworld is airing. However, according to the cast, they’re not too worried about their cowboy competition.
“I have watched a bit of Westworld,” Gemma Chan, who plays synth Mia in Humans, told RadioTimes.com.
“I haven’t completely caught up with it – I think I’m still somewhere in season one. But it’s great. And it’s a completely different show.”
“We are the original, I like to think,” she continued. “I think they’re very different shows, and hopefully they complement each other.
“It seems to happen with shows, that you get two in the same field. But I would say we’re kind of like the Peaky Blinders to their Boardwalk Empire.”
Emily Berrington, who plays violent synth Niska in Humans, added, “From what I understand, there’s quite a big difference between the messages and themes of the shows. But I do think it shows that there’s an appetite for this material and this topic.
“For a while, I had a Google alert on my phone for every time there was a new big story about AI. I eventually had to turn it off, because every day there was about a million of them. So I think that what’s been made reflects that.”
Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays newly-crowned synth leader Max, agreed.
“I think it’s part of a similar conversation, a conversation that needs to happen as we sort of become closer in closer in terms of our technological relationship,” he said.
“I think it’s important to hold a mirror up to where we are now, and inform, warn, educate and expand.”
“It feels all the more timely actually, now,” Chan concluded.
“I feel like we’re closer – the advances seem to be coming quicker and quicker and quicker. In terms of AI, not necessarily in a humanoid form, but in terms of algorithms, and self-driving cars, things like that. So that’s where we’re going.”
If anything, then, we should be expecting even more robot rebellion dramas as we inevitably approach the rule of our dastardly mechanical overlords. Fingers crossed they’ll let us keep Game of Thrones as well.
Humans airs on Channel 4 on Thursdays, while Westworld continues on Sky Atlantic and NOWTV on Mondays