Joan is Awful, or data in the age of A.I.

Adrian George Nicolae
3 min readAug 21, 2023
Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Some of you may have heard of Black Mirror, a show with dystopian stories of various degrees of potential happening.
In the latest season, the first episode is called Joan is Awful.
Without spoiling the whole episode, Joan and her partner are discovering this show on Streamberry (which is essentially Netflix) and it has someone else playing her, while going about her day, up to the point they’re at.

So, let me reiterate that to you. Joan wakes up, goes to work, has drama there, has drama somewhere else, goes home, they discover this show, who has other people playing her and the people she encountered throughout her day, and is set on ruining her life.

In a way, it is a movie within a movie, but as you’ll discover by the end of the show, this movie within a movie isn’t made by other people, but by A.I.. The wrong kind of people are just enabling it.

As I was watching this show, a few things hit me.

It’s exactly what the American writers/actors are striking about, as the big studios are refusing to budge on using A.I., as they’re only thinking about profits and nothing else useful.

Another thing that hit me is how comfortable some people have become while choosing the wrong thing, only to make an easier/faster buck, which will make it unbearable in the future. Which leads me to the third thing that hit me.

We’ve seen/are aware of shows like The Truman Show, The Matrix, Idiocracy, Wall-E, The Terminator, Ready Player One, just to name a few.
The Truman Show is, in a way, what Joan is Awful is, but with a real person living in a tv show unaware.
Idiocracy and Wall-E are about the laziness of people that makes them stupid and incapable of anything. While different in theme, they are quite similar.
The Matrix is about humans being enslaved by robots, by their own doing, and trying to stop it every so often, but failing and doing it again. Which is also a metaphor for how throughout history we’ve had people conquering, only to eventually die and be replaced by others.
The Terminator is similar, but different in that robots aren’t that advanced in the world where the movie takes places, but only in a futuristic place. Again, done by people to themselves.
And Ready Player One is more about the escapism of video games, in particular VR, because people live in dejected houses and there’s really no reason to live, so why not play a game.

I’m sure there are more movies with a similar theme. Point is, we humans to this to ourselves, either in the name of innovation and advancement, or because we have no morals, scruples, and want that big paycheck.
The solution is obviously to limit A.I. and cut it’s funding, and protect it from questionable people, but considering armies are using robots, does anyone think it’s going to happen?