For J.J. Abrams, the relationship between human beings and machines is something that fascinates him.
Abrams’ newest show, Revolution, shows what happens when mankind is involuntarily disconnected from modern technology. “When the power goes out, the structure of society would shift enormously,” he said. “The people who are in control are more likely to fall by the wayside and not know how to handle anything. The have-nots will know how to live in that world and will become the most powerful.”
Right now, machines sometimes have the edge. Abrams related a story about a fax machine that malfunctioned. After repairing it, he realized man’s relationship to machines would look odd to an outsider. “For several minutes I was a slave to the machine,” he said. The machine displayed step-by-step directions for fixing it. “If an alien had come down and peeked in the window, it would have concluded, ‘Oh, this is a society in which little devices tell those bipedal creatures what to do.'”
“We are in that place right now,” said Abrams. “We are as much in response to what this thing is telling us to do as it is to us. This is a balancing act, and I’m not sure which side has more weight.
“I think the connection between the flesh and the machine is fascinating and relevant,” he said. “I don’t know what’s more relevant than that today. It’s a big part of Revolution, as well as Fringe and Person of Interest.”
Today,” said Abrams, “information is instantaneous. People know too much too soon and the whole world witnesses every moment. The more this happens, the harder it is to tell stories. It really undermines the possibility of something being curated, of someone with taste and intellect being able to help you determine a point of view.”
So the thought of a show where mankind had to get along without technology had an appeal to Abrams. “[Revolution is] an epic romantic family quest,” he said.