Sci-Fi Spotlight: The Computer Is a Real Girl
There are lots of stories about computer programs that become sentient. More often than not those programs end up becoming evil. For example, you have the notorious HAL from 2001: a Space Odyssey and Monica from Doki Doki Literature Club. I am personally a bigger fan of Doki Doki than Space Odyssey, but neither of those are things I would recommend for everyone. A variant of this story that is appropriate for all ages, and in my opinion the best, is the Gravity Falls episode “Soos and the Real Girl.”
The general premise of this episode is a lot more like DDLC than Space Odyssey. His grandmother tasks Soos to find a date for his cousin’s wedding. Soos isn’t sure how to do that. He even struggles with the task with Dipper and Mabel helping him. That all changes when he finds a dating sim at the local video game store. The cashier implies there’s something wrong with the game, but Soos decides to take his chances.
It turns out that the protagonist of Soos’s game, Giffany, has become sentient, and she refuses to let Soos date anyone else. They’re going to be together forever. This leads her to terrorizing Soos, the kids, and his real date at the mall.
As a lover of science fiction, I am a big fan of this episode. It’s the same type of fun and all the other Gravity Falls episodes, but with an evil AI. This episode also has some distinct advantages over other evil AI stories. The primary one being it’s a good time you can share with everyone in your family regardless of age. It’s still creepy. The idea of a computer program coming alive and struggling to take control of every aspect of your life is terrifying. “Soos and the Real Girl” makes it an adventure. Our intrepid cast defeats Giffany and get to live happily ever after, or at least until the next episode.
I can appreciate sci-fi stories that act as cautionary tales. Stories that warn me I should be careful in our rapidly advancing society. Simultaneously I don’t need all the media I consume to be like that. I can give myself enough reasons to be afraid of the future. It’s nice to have assurances that not everything is bleak and dire. A couple of kids and a handyman beating an evil AI with things they found in a Chuck E. Cheese is very reassuring.
If they can manage that, then what do I have to be afraid of? I can deal with whatever the future throws at me and have a good time watching a cartoon.