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Thoughts on "The Machine" (Spoilers Allowed when talking about it)

  • Avatar of bmoshier

    bmoshier

    [1]Jan 21, 2012
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    I'd like to discuss "The Machine" in this series. Unlike the other thread discussing is it possible to create one, I'm wanting to discuss this machine and how we see it working and developing (both in the story and maybe it, itself).


    Some examples:


    1) I noticed when we see from "The Machine's" perspective, Finch is in Yellow.


    2) When Mr. Reese first came into its view during the series I think he was in White (like most people). In tonight's episode I noticed like Finch, Reese is now in Yellow. I suspect the machine made a decision about him and "upgraded" or "changed" his status in "The Machines" internal table (opinion?).


    3) I noticed the machine can decide on its own who might be a threat to it and identifies them in Red. Also in Red (but with Red bars with a White box) are those about to commit a crime or violence.


    These are three examples of stuff I feel we should be collecting / identifying in this thread. Later on, say between seasons, we could discuss what it all means and where the writers might take "The Machine." Also fair game, IMHO, is where we might want to see "The Machine" and/or the story line for "The Machine" go in the future.


    An example: Maybe there should be a small story line / arc where the machine needs Finch and Mr. Reese's help in protecting it. It could send its own number (say 987654321, a special code number). Personally, I'd love to see this happen. As a follow-on, Finch decides to give it the ability to protect itself at some point with an add-on module.


    Another possibility: We discover Finch needed programming help in finishing "The Machine" and there is another person who knows how it works and who Finch trusts. This is NOT a traitor or "double agent" idea, the guy really is trustworthy. He's the inside man at the NSA Finch uses and to keep an eye on the machine. One idea: Someone kidnaps Finch and either the inside guy contacts Mr. Reese or this inside guy contacts Mr. Reese for help in saving Finch.


    As a side note: I've been programming computers and designing software since 1974, so I have some computer knowledge and would love to discuss the technological aspects of this machine. I just don't want to do it in this thread. Does anyone know of an existing thread where people are discussing "The Machine" or where we might go to do it (one thought is here with another thread, but ... I hesitate it do it here).

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  • Avatar of bmoshier

    bmoshier

    [2]Jan 22, 2012
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    After some sleep, I got a thought on the yellow box for Reese and Finch. Maybe it means people who know about "The Machine" and not simply those working with its creator (Finch). Yellow would denote the person knows about the machine and isn't considered a threat (yet) to the machine.


    Question: How does "The Machine" protect itself? One way, of course, would be to pop out the guy's SS# to the powers that monitor and process the numbers (e.g. NSA). Yet, if the NSA upon investigating the person doesn't see terrorist activities, they'd lose faith in "The Machine." So, to protect itself, wouldn't it need to do something more proactive than giving out the SS#?

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  • Avatar of ChancseR

    ChancseR

    [3]Jan 22, 2012
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    I am probably way out of my league, having minimal computer savvy, but in the previous episode Finch told Ingram he would encrypt the operating system so no computer on earth could ever crack it. He also told Ingram he was the only other person who knew how the machine worked.


    There was talk the machine was sentiment but if you watch the intro to POI it shows how the machine analyzes info., voice stress, word choice, along with camera feeds for body language. I don't think it is sentient just able to accumulate lots of info at rapid speed to come to a conclusion.


    As far as the box colors go I think they vary depending on what role the person has. If they are an asset, a participant, perpetrator. I will have to pay more attention.


    Who or what do you think is a threat to the machine?


    Edited on 01/22/2012 1:49pm
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  • Avatar of bmoshier

    bmoshier

    [4]Feb 10, 2012
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    Well, tonight's episode gives us a little bit more about the machine.


    System Administrator
    Security Breached

    EVALUATING OPTIONS

    Mitigate
    Subvert
    Monitor


    Choice for now -- Monitor.


    I wonder who is breaking into the system. Could it be someone we don't know yet, the hacker from last week, the NSA lady, or ????


    I've thought it would be nice if Harold had a computer buddy who he could trust that worked on the machine with him. It could be when he was having a really rough patch in the A.I. design to make the machine stable. While he had the machine running, it would show issues of going off the deep end and this fellow programmer helped him put the machine on a stable basis.

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  • Avatar of bmoshier

    bmoshier

    [5]Feb 10, 2012
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    Come to think about it, a story arch about the machine protecting itself ..using its own methods and maybe calling on Finch for help would be a very interesting story.


    Of course, one can ask how the machine could help protect itself. One way would be to give out the SS# of the person going after it. Yet, this could back fire ... I wonder if it can modify records, as well as see them.....


    Time will tell the tale, won't it...

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  • Avatar of ohjeans

    ohjeans

    [6]Feb 12, 2012
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    A few weeks ago, the Machine identified Reese by calling him an asset ("Searching for asset Reese, John"). In "Root" Finch called on Zoe to help with their POI of the week; could it be that the Machine now routinely tracks her as an asset as well? Maybe the Machine identifies what is an asset to it and its mission independently from what Reese and Finch may think. We know it identifies threats without their input or action, such as that infamous red box that went around Ingram shortly before his death. When Finch interacts with the machine, does he see the boxes and the comments the machine is generating? If he does, that means he may have known about Ingram's status having changed to that of potential threat.


    It would be cool if the machine began to identify not only a POI, but also potential assets Finch and Reese should consider in resolving/preventing the crime. Possible assets the machine may now consider to be "in reserve" could include: the Judge, Joey the soldier who left town, Zoe, maybe the doctor who stitched up Reese--new potential assets turn up in every episode. Why should the machine assume that they are only pertinent to the one incident? Finch could be in for some surprises if the Machine starts taking an active role in helping them resolve the weekly POI puzzle. For that matter, if the Machine starts making asset suggestions together with a POI SS number, it would give Reese and Finch some better clue as to where to start in identifying the danger connected with that POI.

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  • Avatar of spoil

    spoil

    [7]Feb 18, 2012
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    Hmmm... Sorry to butt in here, but I got interested in the conversation...


    I noticed the 'asset, Reese, John' thing too. But do you two remember, in episode 11, how Reese said--"There is no Machine-there's only you" or something along those lines?


    What if-and I'm just putting this out there-the Machine isn't EXACTLY what you take it for?


    Think about it. This show... you basically go with the characters. What you know, they know, and, predominantly, it follows from Reese's perspective, so what Reese knows, you know. How many times have they been wrong on their first assumptions? Quite frequently. PoI gives you information, and neither confirms nor denies suspicions, only giving you subtle hints as to what the correct answer is. Take... episode 11, since I mentioned it above. The woman was sent red roses by her stalker-and Reese sees the Super cutting red roses outside. Immediately, you jump to the conclusion-it MUST be our man. Now, if you think of it logically, while the Super had the most access to it, anybody in that complex could have gotten the flowers and sent them to her. But, since the overall tone set the Super to be the bad guy from the beginning, you drew that conclusion until the big reveal--!


    So, back to the Machine; all I'm saying is, what if the Machine's function... isn't EXACTLY what we took it to be? We know what Finch said, but you know how he likes to dodge around the truth... Not lying, but not releasing all information.


    Of course, this is all just speculation. For all I know, it could be this amazing supercomputer that can detect the relationship between things.


    As to your initial question as to how the Machine might work... Well, I'm not exactly tech-savvy, but I will go for the obvious and say that it takes in all electronic data and sorts through it all through a pre-programmed system that specifically details the potential threat levels and responses to said data. And since, as you said, it identified Reese-which, in the opening, it cannot do at all-then Finch has more control over it than we might think.


    ...I got a little sidetracked though, don't you think? Haha, anyways...

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  • Avatar of doctorwho747

    doctorwho747

    [8]Mar 29, 2012
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    spoil wrote:


    Hmmm... Sorry to butt in here, but I got interested in the conversation...


    I noticed the 'asset, Reese, John' thing too. But do you two remember, in episode 11, how Reese said--"There is no Machine-there's only you" or something along those lines?


    What if-and I'm just putting this out there-the Machine isn't EXACTLY what you take it for?


    Think about it. This show... you basically go with the characters. What you know, they know, and, predominantly, it follows from Reese's perspective, so what Reese knows, you know. How many times have they been wrong on their first assumptions? Quite frequently. PoI gives you information, and neither confirms nor denies suspicions, only giving you subtle hints as to what the correct answer is. Take... episode 11, since I mentioned it above. The woman was sent red roses by her stalker-and Reese sees the Super cutting red roses outside. Immediately, you jump to the conclusion-it MUST be our man. Now, if you think of it logically, while the Super had the most access to it, anybody in that complex could have gotten the flowers and sent them to her. But, since the overall tone set the Super to be the bad guy from the beginning, you drew that conclusion until the big reveal--!


    So, back to the Machine; all I'm saying is, what if the Machine's function... isn't EXACTLY what we took it to be? We know what Finch said, but you know how he likes to dodge around the truth... Not lying, but not releasing all information.


    Of course, this is all just speculation. For all I know, it could be this amazing supercomputer that can detect the relationship between things.


    As to your initial question as to how the Machine might work... Well, I'm not exactly tech-savvy, but I will go for the obvious and say that it takes in all electronic data and sorts through it all through a pre-programmed system that specifically details the potential threat levels and responses to said data. And since, as you said, it identified Reese-which, in the opening, it cannot do at all-then Finch has more control over it than we might think.


    ...I got a little sidetracked though, don't you think? Haha, anyways...


    I have thought about the whole implying that there is no Machine and the numbers come from Finch and here is my theory: I think that yes there is in fact a Machine and that Finch has a mental connection with it and that is what the "backdoor" is he spoke of have built. I think that with the connection Finch does not need to have access to a computer and can connect with it anywhere. In the episode "Root Cause" and the following one Root hacked into Finch's system at the library and he had to shut it down and rebuild it and yet Finch still recieved a new number. He even said to Reese something like "Despite my database being shut down and needing rebuilding I can assure you Mr Reese The Machine is still very much operational" So the numbers while from The Machine are also from Finch himself. Rather than have The Machine decide to turn on Finch which would be too "2001 A Space Odyssey" or even "Eagle Eye" What I think would be a cool story arc is if someone gains access to The Machine and is able to manipulate it without Finch knowing. Just imagine what someone could do with all that knowledge if in the wrong hands. If anyone remembers the show "Quantum Leap" they did a story arch about an "evil leaper" who unlike Sam Beckitt who put things right that went wrong by time travel, the evil leaper made sure things went wrong and even undid some of the good things Sam did. So either someone corrupting The Machine" or another Machine that would give the creator all the knowledge they need to commit the perfect crimes and get away with it completely.

    Edited on 03/29/2012 9:30pm
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  • Avatar of JohnStanton

    JohnStanton

    [9]May 4, 2012
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    I wanted to put forth a few observations and guesses:


    A couple weeks back I was watching an older episode of PoI where we see the book, _The Ghost in the Machine_. I know that I have seen the book mentioned in many science fiction stories and is code for sentient computers. I bought a copy and have been reading it -- interesting stuff by an interesting guy.


    In the same episode Finch mentions that he has cracked the space-time continuum. Then smiles and says just kidding. Finch does not make many jokes...


    When you see the machine's timeline it seems to always start in 2016. Why 2016?


    Here is my theory. The machine is not yet sentient but will become so in the future, possibly in 2016. In the interim something terrible has happened to humanity. The machine in 2016 is attempting to alter the future by influencing the earlier version of itself.


    Time travel is pretty tough to do, but perhaps influencing a previous version of yourself is not as touch for the machine as say sending a human back in time.


    The writers for the show might be reading about quantum entanglement and quantum computers. I suspect they might have reached the conclusion that it is easier for quantum computers to do some cool stuff (e.g. telepathy, teleportation, time travel, etc.) than it is for humans.


    I seriously think PoI is science fiction show. Think about who the creator of the show is... Also, the Person of Interest *is* The Machine.


    John


    Edited on 05/04/2012 12:43pm
    Edited 3 total times.
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  • Avatar of Peter_24601

    Peter_24601

    [10]May 10, 2012
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    Here are my thoughts on what I've seen so far in the series concerning 'The Machine':


    1) It considers Finch 'The Administrator'. So when it says 'Security Breach' it's referring to the fact that Reece and Lionel were following him, but chose not to act (only monitor) because they are just snooping around and pose no real threat.


    2) The machine is showing signs of AI and is becoming self aware. If someone attempts to break into the machine, I am sure it will take measures to defend itself, like sending that person's number to the NSA as a false 'terrorist' threat.


    3) If the Machine does go AI, does the government try to unplug it?


    4) Finch said the machine was unhackable, but that hacker from a half a dozen episodes ago was able to get the jump in Finch, so anything is possible. They even hinted to it, nothing is unbreakable. It's only a matter of time.


    5) What if the machine were to find a terrorist threat and no one did anything about it, kinda like the government refusing to do anything because they want to profit from what happens afterward? Would the Machine send that same number to Finch in the hopes that he and Reece stop the threat and prevent the act?


    Just a few things to nibble on. Take care,


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  • Avatar of bertipa

    bertipa

    [11]May 14, 2012
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    Peter_24601 wrote:


    4) Finch said the machine was unhackable, but that hacker from a half a dozen episodes ago was able to get the jump in Finch, so anything is possible. They even hinted to it, nothing is unbreakable. It's only a matter of time.



    Finch said that the machine was unhackable and that no backdoor should be allowed. But a backdoor, a contingency, has been added so now the machine, while that allowed it to interact with Finch, has an Achille's heel.

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  • Avatar of protonefrid

    protonefrid

    [12]May 14, 2012
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    Damn it, i just rewatched the third episode and in the airport flashback in 2006 Reese already had a yellow square/box.... (when he met Jessica)


    .... my head is going to explode now

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  • Avatar of bertipa

    bertipa

    [13]May 24, 2012
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    bertipa wrote:


    Peter_24601 wrote:


    4) Finch said the machine was unhackable, but that hacker from a half a dozen episodes ago was able to get the jump in Finch, so anything is possible. They even hinted to it, nothing is unbreakable. It's only a matter of time.



    Finch said that the machine was unhackable and that no backdoor should be allowed. But a backdoor, a contingency, has been added so now the machine, while that allowed it to interact with Finch, has an Achille's heel.



    And now Root want it.

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  • Avatar of ohjeans

    ohjeans

    [14]Jul 10, 2012
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    Yellow Boxes and Threats to System


    In several of the Forums for PoI, many have speculated on the meaning of The Machine's graphic indicators. I am beginning to think thusly:


    a) No, Yellow does not mean one who knows about The Machine (e.g., John's box was Yellow back when Jessica was still unmarried).


    b) No, Yellow does not mean Asset (e.g., PoIs have been Yellow when it was highly unlikely that they could ever be of use to The Machine's present or future safety or mission).


    I think the Yellow Box means "This person is enmeshed in indicators of Planned Violence."


    Still, just about all The Machine's Assets would be in Yellow Boxes. The Machine is a Conspiracy Susser. It must be aware of the long-time, ongoing conspiracies against itself, even if it found them by going backwards. Usually it works from Noting and Assessing Violence-related Objects and Actions, to Pinpointing a Person. A conspiracy against its safety could be detected in this way. But a conspiracy to twist its mission would have to be discovered backwards, because highjacking its mission could be accomplished without the use of violence; all one would have to do is get The Machine to recognize one as the Administrator. This could be what Root is up to. She snatched Finch, and The Machine never saw it coming. Sure, it tagged her as a PoI because of the phony hit job. But it never tagged her "Threat to System."


    Would like to know others' ideas on this.

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  • Avatar of drclawski

    drclawski

    [15]Aug 4, 2012
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    my theory is: the machine is real, and it does analyze all data, and sort it into relevant and irrelevant.


    I also think Finch is the backdoor himself. We get a few red herrings or Reese looking at serial numbers on coffee cups and such, but we never really know exactly how Finch gets the numbers.


    Yet there is something unexplained. In one of the earlier episodes Finch is in the hospital, and there's an x-ray of his neck. Quite a few metal pins connected to his spine there. He gives an explanation on his injury, but it is never explored in a flashback or something. So, I theorize that these metal pins somehow allow Finch to get access to the 'irrelevant list'. Perhaps by twitches, some kind of morse code. Nothing fancy though. Once he has the numbers, he can use his normal computer setup to access the rest of the info.


    Now, the show is still fairly technical. Everything in it that's been told to the audience is still very much plausible. If they pursue the above avenue they will move into the unrealistic.


    On another note, there's also a fragment where we see Finch's partner start coding the 'contigency' function. That arc is also not resolved yet.

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  • Avatar of TomWayne

    TomWayne

    [16]Aug 17, 2012
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    The yellow box does mean those who know about the machine--the"Administrators" (Finch and Nathan), the "Asset" (Reese), and the NSA (Alicia Corwin and Denton Weeks)--as evidenced by the yellow box around Peck at the end of "No Good Deed." The box is yellow around Reese in the Jessica airport flashback because it was the Machine's flashback from the present, in which Reese knows about it, so it assigned yellow to all pastID's as well.


    (The boxes around POI's have been generic "everyman" white, except when they're just about to commit an act of violence, then it goes red, as with anyone who is committing an act of violence, except the Asset. Hence Reese's "immunity" from being found by the government via the Machine.)


    Too bad we didn't see Stanton's box in "Matsya Nyaya" after she was told by the dying Ordos victim that "they" (his attackers)had taken"the Machine" away--it was obvious from her reaction and subsequent killing of him (and lying to Reese) that she knew the significance of the term.


    Which begs the question: What was Root's box color in "Firewall"? It might show how much she knows, although she's obviously deduced enough to know how to "interact" with Finch without letting the Machine know something was amiss (it didn't know until Reese told it). So she at least knows there's some way that Finch and Reese use audio and video feeds to determine POI's. Which also makes you wonder if Root was ever a pre-"Reese & Finch team-up" non-relevant POI (whether under one of her prior aliases ("I've had a few.") or even her real name.



    In terms of Season 2, there's a great video posted online of a side interview with Jonathan Nolan at Comic Con 2012 (he's in a white T shirt--ever the more American of the two Nolan brothers). He states that the developments of the Machine for next season are significant to the story, but "just a little bit" of a change. He enjoys fleshing out developments and changes to all of the characters (the Machine included) as a gradual, natural process. Which of course is why POI is such an engrossing show! Yes, we will continue to subject ourselves to the weekly stress of "Will it be this week that we finally learn _____?" because the ride has been so incredible, and the payoff scenes keep us coming back for more.



    (Side note: Nolan has said in past interviews that, while Finch had said that the Machine has a tendency for self-preservation, and while the Machine will continue to upgrade itself over time (in ways that fans will detect clues of its development, as shown by theis board), it will never become self-aware in the sci-fi sense of the term. That would be crossing a line that would impair the "reality" effect and would also take away from the human impact of the show.)


    Edited on 02/01/2013 12:14pm
    Edited 2 total times.
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