Soooo Believable


So I watched Delete recently. It's a two-part mini-series Netflix suggested to me (probably because I've seen just about everything half-way watchable in Netflix, and now the programing algorithm is getting desperate for new stuff it can throw at me). The show was... well, not bad. I made it through the two halves, but I can't exactly say I enjoyed it.

In Delete, the world's computer systems start going haywire. Ships run aground, missiles go off target... all the usual stuff you'd see in a post-apocalyptic Roland Emmerich movie, except Roland isn't involved and the show doesn't have nearly the budget of one of his big-screen disaster porn flicks. Also, the story is half-way interesting (to a point) which also cannot be said about any Roland Emmerich movie.

Regardless, the computers are fucking up, and the U.S. government is (understandably) upset. Looking into the matter, it's discovered that the is a rogue, self-evolving AI loose on the internets, and something has to be done about it. This is the point where we're introduced to a young hacker (the terms "hacker", "hacking", and "to hack" are used WAAAAY too often in this two-parter) and his journalist friend. These two know what's going on, and they are (of course) the only ones that can save the day.

All it'll take is the help of a rogue FBI agent, a hacker collective (all of whom take their names from demons in Dante's Inferno), and a newly developed friendly AI that the hackers hacked together from much hacking.


Now, the thing is the producers of this series obviously tried to make the series half-way technological. They had their eyes towards the kinds of technology that's now pervasive in a world where everything has a GPS chip and is wi-fi/bluetooth enabled. They did try, they were just fighting a losing battle against a concept that relies too heavily on the "magic of the internet" and the "power of hacking". These are two tropes that really need to go away in modern pop-culture.

No matter what TV tells you, you can't just browse a website and magically "hack" into the back-end of a company and see all its files (this isn't necessarily a gripe targeted solely at Delete -- Arrow, a show I really dig, uses the "magic of hacking" through websites in just about every episode).

No matter what you may think about the power of "hackers", most of them don't have the ability to completely rewrite all the world's computers (all of them) with an AI disguised as a virus (both the hackers and the U.S. government in this series seem to think this is possible).

And, no matter how insecure you may believe the worlds computers to be, there is no way a multiple-terrabyte-sized AI could ever spring up, unnoticed, and take over the entire world's computer systems. Because, let's be honest, Facebook would immediately have a page dedicated to it, and Google would buy it, use it for two years, and then discontinue the AI when they realized everyone was ignoring it to spend more time on Facebook.

The producers wanted this series to be good (despite the low budget and constraints of TV), and all the actors were game (and uniformly good, which was a pleasant surprise). There is just no way this series could, in any way, be remotely possible. Ever.