"Person of Interest" is a drama based on real surveillance, but it sometimes crosses that scientific believability line just enough to land in the realm of sci-fi. In fact, it has enough science fiction elements to be enjoyable for people whose TV diet consists mainly of sci-fi shows. Here are the elements most appealing to sci-fi fans.
The idea the Machine may be able to find its creator
In the Season 1 finale, "Firewall," Reese (Jim Caviezel) walked directly up to a surveillance camera and asked it for help in finding Finch (Michael Emerson), who had been abducted by Root (Amy Acker). This implies that the Machine is smart enough to figure out what Reese said and smart enough to perform the requested action.
If this is the case, it would mean the Machine is built with a high level of AI capable of communicating with people, and possibly even knowing what is right and wrong. This sort of AI would be reminiscent of "2001: A Space Odyssey." Is the Machine sentient? Let's just hope it does not turn evil.
The idea that Finch is genius enough to build such a machine
As far as we know at this point in the series, Finch built the Machine almost single-handedly. He had only Nathan (Brett Cullen) helping him, but Finch came up with the concept and did most of the work himself. Most real-life geniuses have plenty of help creating scientific masterpieces. If Finch really built the Machine nearly on his own, it would be fair to call him a sci-fi genius, such as those found on "Eureka."
The idea that every action we take could be stored and compiled
We have many surveillance cameras in the world these days, but the idea that all of that surveillance video could be stored over many months, compiled in a single place, and processed by a single computer is a bit beyond believable, at least so far. YouTube stores many terabytes of information across multiple servers, but even that doesn't quite compare to the amount of space that would be needed to store video from this many surveillance cameras, 24/7.
If the Machine only works in New York, that would be a bit more believable, but even that would take an enormous computer to process all of the video, pull out faces and actions, and make sense of everything. Not just that, the Machine processes and compiles the information to the point that it can actually predict when something is going to happen, a la "Minority Report."
Watch the Season 2 premiere episode "The Contingency" on Thursday, 9/27 at 9PM ET on CBS.
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