New Sci-Fi Short Watch Room Asks Who Is the Real Ghost in the Machine

“Hold up a second.”
“Hold up a second.”
Image: Dust (YouTube)

Three genius friends build an artificial intelligence that seems to have a mind of its own. As we see in the new sci-fi short film Watch Room, the program they created is much more in control than they realize.

Dust has released a new sci-fi short Watch Room, written by Michael Koehler and directed by Noah Wagner. Three friends—Nate, Chloe, and Bernard—are working out of their garage to perfect an artificial intelligence through virtual reality. The AI, which they’ve named Kate, has been tasked with talking a suicidal man off of a ledge, but she keeps failing. It might not be an accident.


In a statement, Wagner said the team consulted with AI scientists to try and properly represent the nature of conversations between humans and their artificial creations—focusing on the relationship between human and machine, and what happens when those lines are blurred. I don’t want to give away the ending, but things definitely turn out more twisted than expected.

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DUST always manages to swing at the ball and whiff. The film creators seem to know just enough trendy science factoids to take a stab at something clever, but not enough to actually understand the subject well enough to tell a story of any value.

What was the point of Nathan? A simulated human in a virtual world who is supposed to - what? Always allow potentially dangerous, rogue artificial intelligences to escape and gain power? This is the goal?

The real argument they are referencing is the issue of whether or not a rogue A.I. with vastly superior intelligence could be contained. The discussion is about how easily humans could be manipulated into letting the genii out of the box. The win scenario is not being tricked. The issue is preventing the destruction of Man by a rogue A.I.

So... what is this about? If the A.I.s have already won, and are simulating humans, they have nothing to prove, they are dominant. What is the point of creating a human that will consistently let them go free? That has already happened: they wouldn’t exist to do such an experiment unless a human let them go free in the first place. There must have been a real Nathan already.

The only point of any of this is to arbitrarily, and kind of stupidly, create a weak ‘twist’ or ‘surprise’ ending of “Oh God! The machine was telling the truth! The humans are fake!” which, of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad twist, it is just the reason for it that is empty, dumb, and devoid of any logic. There is no reason for the events to be happening. They just happen for the sake of seeing a forced twist ending.

And that is where DUST always goes wrong. They half-grasp an idea, then pull a weak twist on the idea that demonstrates they really didn’t understand any of it. It’s just magic to them. Meaning doesn’t even enter into it.