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Your worst artificial intelligence nightmares were brought to life on 'The X-Files'

Kylie Mar
Host & Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

The X-Files had a message about technology for its viewers this week, and they made sure to program it into us. Just like in an episode of Black Mirror, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were living in a world run by artificial intelligence. The freaky part was that some of it seemed all too familiar.

The episode, titled “Rm9sbG93ZXJz,” opened with a brief story about the A.I. chatbot that Microsoft launched on Twitter on March 23, 2016. “Tay” was designed to mimic the language patterns of a 19-year-old girl as an experiment to better understand how humans interact on social media. Tay quickly became offensive, racist, and hateful on Twitter, however, which led to her complete shutdown.

Cut to Mulder and Scully having dinner at a sushi restaurant run on AI. The experience was clearly a little odd to them, but not as strange as the night was about to become.

After the two refused to pay a tip for the (lack of) service, the restaurant suddenly closed and locked the doors with them inside. Mulder and Scully managed to break out, but that was only the start of what would become our worst AI nightmares.

From self-driving cars to package-delivering drones, the episode was chock-full of technological terrors, including feeling that our smart devices are listening to us, having to prove we’re not a robot, and targeted advertising that makes us wonder, “How did my phone know I was thinking about that?” The scariest part about this episode is that this could be our future — and soon. Just, hopefully, without a destructive smart house, hostile drones, and extremely intimidating doglike robots.

The episode came to a head when Mulder and Scully found themselves cornered by a robot as it presented Mulder’s phone to him. It read, “Last chance to tip.” So the moral of the story: Always tip your server.

Just kidding. The actual message is to live in the moment and don’t let technology take over your life. As Elon Musk says:


The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox. Watch clips and full episodes of The X-Files for free on Yahoo View.

Check out Haley Joel Osment making dead people on ‘The X-Files’:

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