I Can't Stop Thinking About The Circle's AI Twist And I Have So Many Feelings

 The Circle AI.
The Circle AI.

The Circle constantly makes interesting narrative choices and observations about the current and future state of social media and online interactions.  I wouldn’t classify it as a revolutionary Netflix reality TV show. It’s mainly a fun one to not take too seriously. However, it occasionally explores a fascinating topic. This is the case with its integration of AI in The Circle Season 6.

The series introduced one of its most intriguing twists by bringing AI into the conversation and to the forefront. The Circle Season 6 uses AI to catfish the contestants on this popular Netflix reality TV show. It adds a new dimension to this social experiment. The AI integration offers a refreshing twist that is entertaining, but it also raises some concerns.

Warning The Circle Season 6 spoilers are ahead. Proceed with caution. 

The Circle AI with Cassie Taylor on Season 6
The Circle AI with Cassie Taylor on Season 6

The Twist Adds A New Entertaining Layer To The Series

The AI storyline works very well on The Circle. It helps support my theory that The Circle is one of Netflix’s best reality TV shows. It’s done in a way that shows how AI can work to enhance reality TV. The Circle is all about social media, online relationships, and the pros and cons of the evolving landscape of human social connections. Therefore, it almost seems inevitable the show would have to eventually address AI. It smartly explores what happens when AI impersonates a human.

In The Circle Season 6, the show introduces a twist where AI becomes a player in the game. It takes on a Max alias. Using algorithms and statistics, it mimics what makes a person likable and popular. The show allows Max the AI to interact with the players before warning them that someone in the game isn’t a real person. Then the players must figure out the AI player and eliminate it.

Max is never one of the players under suspicion as the AI. This offers a scary and fun look at how AI can blend in online with humans. The AI twist on The Circle only lasts for a few episodes. All the players are shocked by the reveal. From a storytelling perspective, it’s a twist that delivers. You’re entertained and hooked on how it all plays out. It also may make you wonder if you could tell the difference between a real person and an AI mimicking a person.

I think The Circle should have let the twist play out longer. This could show more of the limits, if any, of using AI in this manner. For example, people aren’t neat and they have a rich history that may have been hard for an AI to develop or replicate. The interactions between the AI and the human could have started to feel shallow and surface-level. Even online, people can develop deeper connections that may be beyond an AI’s capabilities.

The Circle’s AI twist succeeds in creating engaging conversations around the idea. However, not all the conversations are positive.

The Circle uses AI
The Circle uses AI

It’s A Great Twist But Some Of It Makes Me Uncomfortable

The fact that no one figured out that Max was AI makes me worry about the ease with which people can use the right technology to catfish others. No one wants to become part of a future crazy episode of Catfish. If AI can manipulate people that easily, we’ll see an AI episode eventually. Scamming in America is already a big problem because it is used to financially and romantically manipulate people. Dating apps often become a source for people to catfish and scam others. Usually, if you have enough tech savvy, you can spot a scammer. However, now it may be easier to use AI to deceive people. Imagine meeting someone online only to find out that they used AI to create a persona to trick you into dating them, or imagine you think you’ve made a great business investment but it was a scam made to seem real with the help of AI.

The Circle could be edited to make it seem to viewers like the AI easily deceived the contestants. You always have to approach reality TV shows with a bit of caution. It’s about telling a captivating story with footage and that isn’t necessarily always the true story. Therefore, maybe the contestants did have suspicions about Max, but that was edited out. It would surely be more fascinating if the AI completely deceives them.

AI is constantly evolving and advancing, so currently it doesn’t seem like the technology can catfish people, at least not the basic kind accessible to most individuals. However, in the future, AI could reach scary levels of mimicking human emotions. If a million AI destroys humanity movies taught us anything, especially Ex Machina, it’s to approach it with caution. Also, do not trust it.

However, it seems like only a few people see these films as cautionary tales because we’re already seeing AI pushed more into our lives, whether we want it or not. To my knowledge, SAG-AFTRA didn’t initially cover reality TV shows, so The Circle using AI didn’t directly affect what the Actors and Writers’ strikes were fighting for. However, it shows how easily it can find its way into the television and film world. Netflix already recently found itself in some AI controversy. According to Futurism, Netflix allegedly used AI in the documentary What Jennifer Did. 

The use of AI in The Circle was done openly, so it doesn’t feel quite the same as how it was possibly used in that documentary but both could show the start of a pattern of Netflix feeling comfortable integrating it into its content.

The Circle is a very popular Netflix series so people could watch this twist and see ways they can deceive with AI. I would hope anyone watching it would see a way to use AI to enhance their work and lives, not as a means of replacement, but you never know how people will respond to things.

The Circle and AI
The Circle and AI

I Am Not Completely Against AI On The Circle

I think the best way to use AI (if you’re going to use it) is to help enhance not replace. The Circle, overall, used it rightly. It didn’t completely replace the contestants with AI bots. It used it to add an entertaining twist that didn't last long.

It added an interesting dynamic but the story remained focused on the real people on the show. Their reactions, emotions, stories, and connections stood above the AI’s purpose. Personally, I would prefer every industry that isn’t AI-focused to use it very rarely. However, based on everything we’ve seen so far, that’s not going to happen.

Therefore, I just hope that when utilized it’s used as a way to supplement something and not eliminate the need for human creation. If The Circle decides to add this twist again, I hope they let it play out longer just to show more of the limits of AI. And if the AI wins the season, then maybe it could be turned into the best episode of Black Mirror ever and make us reevaluate technology and this world.

Stream The Circle on Netflix.