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As far as sci-fi cautionary tales go, they don’t get much better at warning people about the dangers of artificial intelligence than Warning, Agata Alexander’s grounded new sci-fi anthology. In one particular segment, the movie warns that if humanity is not careful, an Alexa-like A.I. could replace God. (“Alexa: Define existential crisis?”)
It’s a terrifying concept, brought chillingly to life by star Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness). Here, she plays Claire, a lonely and manic “God” devotee, ritualistically praying and confessing her sins to the Alexa-like device. Like most of the big ideas presented in Warning — which also stars Alex Pettyfer, Thomas Jane, Kylie Bunbury, Patrick Schwarzenegger, and Rupert Everett — it’s not one that feels wholly unrealistic.
You can get a sense of the eeriness of the film, as well as Eve’s character in our exclusive clip, where Claire becomes increasingly frazzled by the fact that her God is on the fritz. “She’s trying to establish how she can get God back online so she can feel alive again, it’s kind of her life source,” Eve told SYFY WIRE while setting up the scene.
SYFY WIRE recently talked with Eve about what Warning is truly warning us about, and whether or not there are parallels between Claire and her Star Trek Into Darkness character, Starfleet science officer Dr. Carol Marcus.
Why do you think this movie is appropriately titled, especially in regards to your vignette?
The title, I think, refers to a weather warning. The thing that brings all the vignettes together is that there’s an electric storm that’s gonna come [and] take people offline. And it kind of presents all these different realities that will be under threat if they’re taken offline, or — in some cases — destroyed.
In my [character’s] case, it’s a warning against becoming so reliant on tech that you lose your sense of autonomy, and your soul, and your humanness. Which is a very real threat, for myself included, like I’m always on this little phone.
Why do you think it’s appropriate to call Alexa “God” in this situation?
God is the [person] in history, or historically in humanity, that’s had the answers. You pray to God, you ask God for things, you have faith in God. And God has, theoretically, been replaced by Alexa. You ask Alexa things. You can pray to Alexa because Alexa will tell you that everything is alright, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily the best psychological setup.
So why is praying more “analog” better?
Because you’re in union with yourself, I guess. It’s communion with yourself. Praying [that way] is having to face what goes on inside. You know, we’re complex beings; we have all sorts of feelings and thoughts, and we have to check ourselves… what’s the song?
Before we wreck ourselves.
Thank you. Thank you. I’m so glad you took it, I appreciate that.
So is the idea here in the movie that technology is replacing religion?
Well, we need something, because religion is certainly having a crisis in the West. And I guess we do have a lot of faith in technology, it keeps us together in a lot of ways… we’re talking using technology. But maybe not to have too much faith in it, maybe to have more faith in humanity would be the “warning.” I certainly have faith in humanity; I think we’re amazing.
How would you describe your character?
She’s lost, she’s lonely, and she’s disconnected from herself. She’s become overly reliant on something else when she should maybe be more reliant on herself. And she’s maybe become a little lazy, in terms of communicating with real humans. And she’s become kind of conditioned, like she’s got Stockholm Syndrome, with her daily sins and the answering to this mechanism.
Your character is shown reading a book called Happiness Is Reality, how does that help show character?
Well, she’s searching for happiness, as we all are, and it’s a fleeting concept — happiness. It’s like, some days you’re happy, and sometimes you’re not. And you obviously always want for more; as humans, we like to long for things. But in my opinion, happiness is accepting reality — radically accepting reality, whatever it is, letting it be how it is, obviously trying to change the things you can, but acceptance is a big part of happiness, she can’t accept anything.
How did the time you spent in the Star Trek universe help prepare you for another sci-fi future?
You know, Star Trek was phenomenal. When we did that movie, they built the Enterprise on the Sony lot. So we were kind of on the Enterprise living the life of a space traveler. I guess, imaginatively, you get to the point where you understand… it seems that the big conversation around where we’re headed as a culture is into a more solitary existence. The idea of a family on a street, next to other families, and everyone kind of needing each other, it’s just kind of changing and moving away. So in my opinion, this sci-fi future, this dystopian future, has a lot to do with loneliness and individuals… [like] one man on Mars… all these kind of concepts. So I guess the idea of one man out for himself, against the world, is definitely what I brought to this character; certainly Dr. Carol Marcus, she was a woman who answered only to herself.
Did you ever do any cons for Star Trek?
Yeah, I did a few. I did Vegas, I did one here recently, I think Birmingham, just to sign some stuff. I’ve been to those, yeah, they’re super fun.
Do you think those speak to our need for collectivism?
Totally. We all want to bring our little individual thing together, but we’re going through some growing pains about how to bring ourselves back together, certainly after the pandemic. But we need it, and it is at our peril if we forget how much we need each other.
So is that what Warning is warning us of?
I think Warning is warning us against relying on things other than humanity.
Warning cautiously makes its way into select theaters, digital, and on-demand Oct. 22.