Techies, here’s what to watch, read & listen to in November
This month, we’ve got something Westworld-adjacent, unearthly, Bechdel-Test-passing, faux, and borrowed from Gucci
Yeah yeah, I know we’re almost at the end of November. But if I’d nominated this blog as December’s tech content roundup, the inclusion of Christmas stuff would have been inescapable. And I flatly refuse to write about the festive season before I’ve even tucked into my first advent calendar chocolate. Only nine days to go — plenty of time for you to devour my latest recommendations.
Fans of Westworld — whose fourth season I covered in October — will love The Peripheral. And not just because its creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, serve as executive producers on this Prime Video sci-fi series, adapted from William Gibson’s 2014 novel of the same name. It’s also every bit as dazzling and mind-bending.
Set among the Blue Ridge Mountains in a dystopian 2032 when tech has subtly altered society, The Peripheral centres on 3D print shop worker Flynne Fisher (Chloë Grace Moretz). A keen gamer, she signs up to test a new cutting-edge VR offering that turns out to be a little too real for comfort. Her experience as a Bond-like character starts off fun but soon takes a dark turn toward the future of an alternate reality London.
I may have given away too much already. But fear not, I can’t spoil the show’s ending as it still has two episodes to go. Get on it before details of what promises to be a highly charged finale are all over social media.
Speaking of games that transport us to other worlds…
Our Global Chairman and CEO Carmine di Sibio recently shared the results of an EY survey, which gathered insights from 200 gaming industry execs on the impact of and outlook for the metaverse — a virtual space in which gaming has quickly become a first-mover.
The summary (linked in the heading above) and full EY Gaming Industry Survey report (at the bottom of the summary piece) are both interesting reads that suggest gaming firms may need to evolve if they’re to succeed in the metaverse.
And in answer to Carmine’s question, “what video games do you like playing?” I have to say I’ll always have a special affinity with old-school 2D platformers like Super Mario Bros.
More exceptional dystopia, this time in the form of literature. HellSans by Ever Dundas is about a new font enforced by the government, which triggers bliss in most readers but makes a minority sick — and those poor souls are forced to live in ghettos.
Tech firm CEO Jane Ward ends up among them until she’s rescued by Dr Icho Smith, a scientist on the run from the powers that be — who would do anything to get their hands on the cure she’s developed. The pair team up to expose their corruption and get the cure to those who need it.
HellSans — a female-led novel that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours — is cleverly written to allow readers the option of consuming either Jane or Icho’s narrative before moving on to the two characters’ shared struggle. Dundas also pens some incredibly graphic descriptions of illness, so warning: it may not be one for the fainthearted.
Earlier this week I posted about MIT researchers creating everlasting AI versions of people from their digital footprint. Augmented Eternity, they’re calling it. The project reminded me of a recent AI-generated podcast, in which “Joe Rogan” (let’s call him Faux Rogan) interviews the late, great Steve Jobs (it’s not perfect, but let’s go with Steve Fobs).
After a colourful intro from Faux (listener discretion definitely advised), the pair chew the fat on such topics as drugs, purpose, and religion. Questionable awkward laughter and silence punctuate the 20-minute conversation, but large chunks are entirely convincing.
Podcast.ai, who made the episode, claims it seeks to bring voices from the past back to life. Faux and Fobs marked their first outing, and now there’s a second featuring “Lex Fridman” and the late theoretical physicist “Richard Feynman” (you’ll have to come up with your own AI designations for these guys).
Apple TV’s WeCrashed tells the story of Adam and Rebekah Neumann, the quirky married couple once at the heart of WeWork.
WeWork obviously isn’t a tech company, but I’ve allowed the miniseries to sneak in here because Adam (played by Jared Leto) suggests on various occasions that it is. This proposition is almost as absurd as Leto’s interpretation of Adam’s Israeli-American accent, which the actor has clearly just recycled from his turn as Paolo in last year’s House of Gucci.
Still, Leto and Anne Hathaway are fantastic as the toxic billionaire and his wife, so if you can get past hearing Paolo Gucci in a WeWork board meeting, WeCrashed is worth a watch.