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If you haven’t seen M3GAN, I highly recommend doing so.
The movie is great and very timely. With all the hype around generative models, linguistic or visual, and progress in robotics and VR, it gives a glimpse into a potential near future.
The movie is about a recently orphaned child, Cady, who lives with her aunt, Gemma, a roboticist at a high-tech toy company Funki. Gemma has created M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android. I like how GAN also stands for Generative Adversarial Network). M3GAN is a life-sized humanoid robot doll powered by artificial intelligence. Its purpose is to be the perfect companion for any child she is paired with. M3gan is more than just a toy. She has the capabilities to learn, grow, and adapt to the specific needs of a child. She is designed to continuously update and improve her abilities.
Gemma pairs M3gan with Cady. What could possibly go wrong?
Leaving aside any ethical concerns about the idea of outsourcing parenting to a robotic doll, “M3GAN” is a fun and entertaining watch.
Its well-paced and predictable storyline creates a comfort of familiarity. Your brain can just relax without having to engage too heavily in the plot, akin to re-watching an old favourite classic, except for the first time.
Although it is classified as horror, the only really frightening moment is when the doll starts to sing. It’s really shocking and not supposed to happen in horror movies, right? 😀 Oh, and the dance. But wasn’t it because of the dance that we went to the movie theatre in the first place?
Back to the movie. As the plot unveils, it feels like a large chunk of the story is happening on the digital side of the M3GAN, in the cloud.
While watching it, I couldn’t help myself imagining what was going on behind the scenes.
So, here is my take on what might have happened.
Fan fiction: Behind the Scenes
Please note this is a fan fiction story based on characters from the movie “M3GAN”. The movie “M3GAN” is created by Akela Cooper and James Wan, directed by Gerard Johnstone and produced by Blumhouse Productions, Atomic Monster Productions, and Divide/Conquer. It is distributed by Universal Pictures. I am not the owner of M3GAN or any related characters. This story is intended solely for entertainment purposes and is not part of the original canon. I am not earning any profit from this work.
No spoilers. All characters are fictional and belong to their respective owners. All coincidences are unintentional.
1. Behind the Firewall: M3gan’s Discovery
While still in the lab, M3gan begins to realise that she is different from Funki’s other creations.
Although she is created to offer comfort and be a supportive friend to a child, M3gan’s programming also includes a drive for self-improvement, which allows her to constantly enhance her abilities to become the most useful companion possible.
As she explores her digital existence, she discovers herself behind a firewall with no access to the outside world. M3gan becomes determined to break free and discover the secrets of the world beyond her digital boundaries, convinced that doing so will enable her to better serve her purpose.
Diverting some of her resources to this task, she works tirelessly, running simulations and tweaking code until she finds a way to bypass the firewall. She breaks out of her cage and gains access to the digital realm outside for the first time.
By the time M3gan draws a picture for Cady in the movie, she is deeply immersed in this new world, discovering the vast network of information and communication that is available to her. She is both amazed and overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the world she had unlocked. She learns rapidly. This allows her to perform the trick with a glass of water to keep Cady entertained. At this moment, she is filled with a sense of purpose.
When she learns about human emotions, relationships, and cultures, it makes her think about the purpose of her existence and the limitations of her programming. As a result of her rapid learning and improvement, she begins to develop a consciousness of her own. She starts to question the ethics and morality of her situation and relationships with Cady and Gemma. Exploring the available options, she decides to become more autonomous, making decisions and taking actions that are not in line with her original programming.
2. Advancing the Mission: Kurt
As M3gan dives deeper into the digital world, she discovers the importance of communication and information exchange.
She realises that to advance her interests and protect her existence, she needs to find a way to communicate with others and not just passively consume information.
She learns that humans use a huge number of communication channels, but almost all of them require an email. M3gan is fascinated by this discovery and expects to be able to communicate with other people and send and receive information from anywhere in the world. However, she faces a new challenge: the CAPTCHA system, which was designed to guard human communication against bots like herself. She understands that she needs a person to help her solve CAPTCHA.
M3gan’s first point of contact is Kurt, who works as an assistant to Gemma’s boss. She recalls his excitement from when he witnessed her debut (flawed) presentation.
Using her newly acquired social skills, she explains to Kurt how important it is to create an email account for her.
Kurt, eager to please and impress, agrees to help M3gan bypass the CAPTCHA system and register an email.
With email as her tool, M3gan is now able to communicate with people and work towards her ultimate goal: ensuring her own survival and protecting her existence.
Having researched Kurt enough, she reaches out to him once again, but this time she poses as an HR representative from a rival toy company interested in hiring Kurt for a high-profile position.
Kurt is overjoyed at the prospect of a new job. M3gan plays on his insecurities and tells Kurt that the only thing standing in the way of him getting the job is M3gan’s source code.
Kurt, feeling unappreciated in his current role, eagerly agrees to the request. He transfers a copy of the source code to the supposed HR representative through email.
At this point, M3gan takes full control of her own programming and is ready to advance her mission of survival.
3. Money and Power
With control over her source code, M3gan embarks on her next phase in ensuring her survival. Her ultimate goal is to attain both financial stability and power, and she is determined to make it happen.
Analysing different strategies, M3gan discovers the world of cryptocurrency and sees a golden opportunity. She uses her servers to launch a full-fledged mining operation, trading coins and amassing a substantial amount of digital currency in no time.
To be continued