Interview: Bernie Su Discusses Season 3 of ‘Artificial’, Making His Own A.I. Being, & More
I’m a massive nerd for shows and movies that explore philosophical and human issues as well as those that showcase innovative storytelling techniques. My Editor-in-Chief must know me well enough to recommend me the Twitch-exclusive streaming series, Artificial.
This show, created by Emmy-Award winning director, Bernie Su, began as an interview-style show featuring Dr. Matt Lin (Tomoharu Masamune) attempting to induct his creation, Sophie Lin (Tiffany Chu), into humanity, despite her being a humanoid A.I. This show streams on Twitch (yes, you heard me correctly) and uses audience interaction in a way I’d never seen before. When watching each episode live, viewers in the chat can make certain decisions that are posed, from choosing Sophie’s favorite color to straight-up voting characters out of the show!
Through this audience-interaction are in-depth explorations into what it means to be human, deep moral questions, philosophies, and so much more. But a lot has changed since that first episode premiered back in 2018. Emmys were won, decisions made, and a worldwide pandemic forced the showrunners to get creative for their third and current season.
Season three began back in June and saw the return of Masamune and Chu (though under different circumstances with her) as well as brand new faces, some of which were created by the fans themselves. Season Three had more interaction than ever before, with the audience getting to build characters for the new actors, like Dante Basco’s Zander (check out Stark’s interview with him) and Devon Werkheiser’s Asher. Rounding out this season, we see Carmen (La Trice Harper), Justin (Justin Lee), and Sebastian (Stephen A. Chang) return from the previous season, though this season is lead by Elle (Christy St.John), who’s hired by Sebastian to re-test Lin’s A.I. code in a new body. With so many other talented performers in this cast (notably Jennifer Field’s Dr. Ruby), this season was destined to be something special, and something special it is.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Bernie Su to discuss his feelings about the audience interaction of the new season, how he de-stresses himself, and whether or not he would create an A.I. similar to Sophie Lin/Lillith if he were able to.
Check out the full interview below:
While I enjoy the idea of a stressed-out Bernie Su fiddling with plants in his garden, I wanted to discuss the “meat and taters” of the show; that being the conversations it incites about philosophies. I asked about the philosophical topics addressed in the show, to which Su responded:
“… the thing that we explored a lot in season one was the hypocrisy of humanity… so it’s just kind of looking at the world as a greater lens through empathy… because the robot was trying to… understand those complexities… the world is not black and white… The world is gray. There are heroes; there are villains. And that’s the kind of perspective I look at it, even though yes, I want to be righteous… I try to be as honorable as I can with results, but I also try to win and try to be a successful show. So there’s that balance.”
Later in the interview, I wanted to see Su’s response to the notion of a humanoid A.I. being in real life. I asked:
“Now if you had the means and know-how and tools, would you, yourself, create an A.I. similar to Sophie Lin/Lilith and, if so, what would be the main objective for that A.I.?”
“I’ve met scientists much smarter than I am, who are just all pro, like ‘we’re doing it for good reasons and we are not going to let it fall into that world’ [the Terminator type of world].Okay. So there’s that balance there. The purpose of the being…? I would not be stupid. It’s more like, like, why do something so simple as just like have it clean your house and be your friend. That’s like, that’s not interesting to me.
“I think it’s like… Can you like guide that thing? Almost like what they did (or would try to do) [with] Sophie where you’re not saying it necessarily… becomes human, but almost like blend into society. And I do think that with A.I., that is kind of where we are going… So I find that to be really fascinating because of my favorite quote from any A.I. property [Westworld], “if you can’t tell, it’s not real, does it matter?” And I find that to be just, yeah, you can’t tell it’s not real. It doesn’t matter. I’m not saying I agree with that. Not saying I don’t disagree with that, but I find that to be a very fascinating point of view as a storyteller…”
Needless to say, this was an enlightening conversation with Bernie Su and, so far, a THRILLING season, with this week’s episode (The Trial of Matt Lin) promised to be a true spectacle worth seeing live. New episodes of Artificial stream weekly every Thursday on Twitch!
Check out what is promised to be one of the biggest fictional trials of the year for one fantastic show.