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‘Mrs. Davis’ Star Betty Gilpin Worries A.I. Could Make Us Stop Asking the ‘Big Questions’
Like her character Sister Simone, Betty Gilpin isn't 100% convinced A.I. is 100% good for us.
In Damon Lindelof and Tara Hernandez’s new Peacock series, Mrs. Davis, star Betty Gilpin plays Sister Simone, a nun with a beef against the titular artificial intelligence, which has pretty much turned society into a hive of brainless, plugged-in zombies, who have fully given themselves over to Mrs. Davis’ seemingly sage answers to all the world’s problems.
In a new interview with Salon, Gilpin says she shares a healthy amount of techno-skepticism with her character. And considering the “Godfather of A.I.” just quit his post at Google over fear of what his creations might be capable of, we can’t really blame her (for the record though, co-star David Arquette isn’t exactly worried about it).
“I think a lot of the questions that my character is asking of this thing is a question I'm asking, which is, ‘What do we lose when we have all the answers in our pocket? Do we stop asking the big questions? Are we gambling with access to the intangible and inexplicable, which are the things that make us human and shape us as individuals?’” Gilpin said. “If we have a robot puppy telling us who we are and what to do at all times, do we stop becoming interesting, well-rounded, good people?”
Obviously, those are heady themes. But if you’re worried about being preached to, forget about it, we’re talking about master storytellers in co-creators Lindelof (Lost, Watchmen) and Hernandez (The Big Brain Theory, Young Sheldon), who have made high-concept themes downright entertaining with great aplomb before.
“In true Damon fashion and Tara Hernandez fashion, it really hides your vegetables in a hundred different genres. I feel like oftentimes, when we're faced with what to watch at the end of the day, it's either joyful and mindless or important and depressing," Gilpin said. "They have a way of writing something that's important and joyful. I had never really read anything like this, obviously, so it was a dream.”
Credit a lot of the series’ freshness with the prescience of its co-creators, who were apparently way ahead of the curve as understanding our current state of A.I.
“... Even when we were filming it six months ago, we didn't know how prescient and of-the-time our show would be,” Gilpin said. “ChatGPT wasn't as much a part of the headlines, at least as it is right this second and OpenAI. I think, even though our show is super out there and bonkers sometimes, it is very of this exact moment where we're going to OpenAI, ‘Are you our savior or are you our downfall?’”
Lindelof and Hernandez are executive producers alongside series directors Owen Harris (Black Mirror: San Junipero) and Alethea Jones (Rise of the Pink Ladies). Hernandez also serves as showrunner on the sci-fi/drama show, which currently holds a fresh score of 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Co-stars include Jake McDorman (Limitless), Andy McQueen (Station Eleven), Ben Chaplin (The Nevers), Margo Martindale (Cocaine Bear), Elizabeth Marvel (Helstrom), Katja Herbers (Evil), Chris Diamantopoulos (The Twilight Zone), Ashley Romans (Y: The Last Man), Tom Wlaschiha (Stranger Things 4), and Mathilde Ollivier (1899).
The first five episodes of Mrs. Davis are now streaming on Peacock. New episodes drop on Thursdays.