In one of the story threads, Matt uses an interface as part of his day job at Smartelligence to wrangle an AI that is the cloned a mind of a client named Greta. Matt has three tasks in this role.
- He has to explain to her that she is an artificial intelligence clone of a real world person’s mind. This is psychologically traumatic, as she has decades of memories as if she were a real person with a real body and full autonomy in the world.
- He has to explain how she will do her job: Her responsibilities and tools.
- He has to “break” her will and coerce her to faithfully serve her master—who is the the real-world Greta. (The idea is that since virtual Greta is an exact copy, she understands real Greta’s preferences and can perform personal assistant duties flawlessly.)
The AI is housed in a small egg-shaped device with a single blue light camera lens. The combination of the AI and the egg-shaped device is called “The Cookie.” Why it is not called The Egg is a mystery left for the reader, though I hope it is not just for the “Cookie Monster” joke dropped late in the episode.
Communication in & out
The blue light illuminates when the AI’s attention is on a person in the environment. She can hear through a microphone embedded in the device. She can speak only with someone who is wearing a paired headset. Matt wears one during training. Without a paired headset, the AI cannot directly communicate with the outside world, only control other technologies in the house.
There is a fully immersive way for Matt to participate in the virtual world that will be discussed in the Mind Crimes post.
To keep any chat threads focused, subsequent posts will discuss separately:
It’s going to be a dark few posts. Sorry about that. This is Black Mirror, after all. On the upside, Jon Hamm have us two delightful reaction gifs across these scenes. I shall share them anon.
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The device is called a “cookie” as a reference to the story that inspired it, a novella by Vernor Vinge called “The Cookie Monster” (hence, the joke in the episode is also a reference to this story). The novella – an absolutely incredible story – concerns copies of brains simulated in computers, for the sake of performing labor (slavery), which obviously is the scenario demonstrated in the episode as well.
Highly recommend checking out the novella – it’s not too long, and the full text version can be found online.