I have a long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness list of story ideas that I keep in a plain text file. I jot down the premises as I have them, and whenever my brain wanders back to fill out the details, I take those down, too. When I have enough content put down under one of those ideas — when it becomes clear this is something my mind doesn’t plan on letting go — I get serious, and I start thinking of how I would write it. Here is one of those ideas, presented exactly as I wrote it down in one feverish five minute burst. Now, you can see how short this is: This idea was obviously in its infancy. I didn’t get far enough into it to plan how I would write it or anything, but I was thinking it would work well as a weekly TV show. I don’t watch much modern broadcast TV. I don’t have cable, or even an antenna. I watch a hell of a lot of Netflix, but I’m pretty oblivious as to what kind of thing is actually on the air these days. Still, it seemed like weekly hour-long drama would be a good fit. Here’s the premise:
Based around the Nautilus, the program that compiles news information about the past and predicts events. Largely based on ‘tone’ – positive and negative words in stories. predicted loosely Bin Laden’s location (200kilometers) and the arab spring. got as specific as pinpointing that tunisia was the lynchpin in the revolts, specifically after the coptic(?) church bombing. What if you could feed it everything – movies, books, twitter feeds and facebook profiles, news stories, sure, but all personal media. What if it was more powerful, and used for the immediate future. There would be a team based around this program, trying to prevent some much larger, terrible future one event at a time. A complex web of attitude and predictions – sometimes stomping out dangerous media, sometimes augmenting good media, spreading books or burning down sets, as well as taking out key figures and negotiating peace treaties. They would be torn, questioning, the thing would be like a god. They would treat it with some degree of faith and doubt, like paladins, crusaders of AI.
Kind of a modern day spin on Minority Report, but revolving around extrapolating data from the zeitgeist itself to predict not only crimes, but media events that would shape the public’s consciousness and alter the overall path of the future. Could have been neat
…and here is the Wikipedia synopsis for Person of Interest, a CBS show that apparently fucking everybody and their grandmothers (this is CBS, after all) has been watching for years.
Finch explains that after September 11, 2001, he built a computer system for the government that uses information gleaned from omnipresent surveillance to predict future terrorist attacks. However, Finch discovered that the computer was predicting ordinary crimes as well. The government is not interested in these results, but Finch is determined to stop the predicted crimes. He hires Reese to conduct surveillance and intervene as needed, using his repertoire of skills gained in the military and the CIA. Through a backdoor built into the system, Finch receives the Social Security number of someone who will be involved in an imminent crime, at which point he contacts Reese. Without knowing what the crime will be, when it will occur, or even if the person they were alerted to is a victim or perpetrator, Reese and Finch must try to stop the crime from occurring.
So I damn near accidentally wrote a CBS drama. I expect my hypothetical royalty checks in the Potential Mailbox any day now.