Friday, November 11, 2022

110 - Craig interviews me about How To Confuse A.I.

 I first met Craig Joyce when he was 11. I think I was 14 at the time. We’ve known each other for so long, we can sometimes finish each other’s sentences.

Craig is an odd person. I know, that’s a weird thing to say about an old friend, but he, of all people, completely agrees with that.

Craig has written extensively about the Seattle/Grunge music scene, and has occasionally helped me out editorially with Azzurri Publishing. He came by recently to ask me a few questions about my recent book, How To Confuse A.I.

The following is what Craig himself sent me after the interview. We talked for a lot longer than this. I didn’t have any editorial input. I’m just posting what he decided to include. -P.W.


Craig: Peter Wick, how is the publishing and movie-making going?

Peter: That’s a pretty broad question to start with, Craig.

Craig: Are you ducking the question?

Peter: No. things are going okay. I could imagine them going a little better, but that’s probably always the case with anything in life.

Craig: Tell me about the inspiration for ‘How To Confuse A.I.’

Peter: Okay, well, it starts with “Dr, Strangelove.”

Craig: The 1960’s Stanley Kubrick film.

Peter: Yes, it’s a satire, a brilliantly funny satire. Most of the kids these days probably don’t know anything about Dr. Strangelove, but they should check it out. They probably just think I’m getting the name of Dr. Strange, from Marvel, wrong.

Craig: It had Peter Sellers in three roles –

Peter: Yeah, and it finds hilarious comedy in accidental nuclear war.

Craig: I remember finding it a little bit disturbing.

Peter: Well, yeah, if you find comically accidental nuclear annihilation disturbing –

Craig: I do.

Peter: But the point is, it’s sort of the ultimate, the most brilliant and funny satire of all time.

Craig:  And what connection does it have to How To confuse A.I.?

Peter: I just always emulated that approach to comedy. I always wanted to channel that approach, that biting satire to something.

Craig: So, 50 years in the future –

Peter: Yes, these tech guys, these billionaires, and what I consider this almost religious level of hyperventilating about technology – what’s the next big thing? How will technology save humanity this time?

Craig: You wanted to satirize that.

Peter: I did. So, I just projected these tech elements we’re living with, fifty years into the future, and went with it.

Craig: Who exactly are you satirizing?

Peter: Do you mean which billionaires?

Craig: Yes.

Peter: Well, I think it’s pretty obvious.

Craig: You have a character named Tyrell Elon Zuzerzos.

Peter: Yep.

Craig: Tyrell is from –

Peter: Blade Runner.

Craig: The 1982 Ridley Scott film.

Peter: Yeah, and the sequel, 2049. The Tyrell Corporation makes the Replicants, the simulated humans.

Craig: Then the name Elon –

Peter: Yes, and?

Craig: Elon Musk?

Peter: Look, I don’t want to be sued. But, yes, and the courts generally protect satire and parody. But, yes, Elon Chief Twit Musk.

Craig: And Zuzerzos.

Peter: So, the idea is simply that if you take Jeff Bezos, or Amazon’s Alexa, plus Musk’s Neuralink, plus Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, and give them a combined fifty-year evolution, you might see where I imagined the Simu-Network.

Craig: Where the robots are indistinguishable from humans.

Peter: They live among us.

Craig: And everything is connected?

Peter: Yes, there are no devices anymore. Everything is either inside you or attached to you.

Craig: You have an element of the story concerned with Bio-Wars, viruses and diseases.  Was part of the story influenced by the COVID pandemic?

Peter: Absolutely. I mean, sitting in the middle of the pandemic, where everyone was suddenly working remotely, where all these meetings happened over zoom instead of in person. That lifestyle, combined with the simple reality of a worldwide pandemic, that answered a question for me in the overall story structure. The possibility of this on an even larger scale gave me an option to create fear. You know, there’s that sort of villain out there, The Others.

Craig: Is there anything else you’re targeting for satire here?

Peter: Oh probably, I don’t know. I mean, the surveillance state of China, maybe. The way they have no limits on how much the government can invade privacy, that certainly found its way in. I don’t mean I’m satirizing China. I mean, imagine that level of surveillance happening in the western world, and people accepting it because of that fear.

Craig: The way you describe it, it doesn’t sound very funny.

Peter: (laughs) Well, Dr, Strangelove, and accidental nuclear war probably doesn’t sound very funny.

Craig: And how do you convince readers to check out the book?

Peter: Well, it is funny. I’m very proud of it. It got a 5-star review from Readers Favorite.

Craig: Any final thoughts or comments you would like people to know?

Peter: You know, I’ve become more open to all the unpredictable ways people respond to things these days. I might have my own opinion about this thing I wrote, or that movie I made, but people vote with their three dollars. I appreciate any three dollars anyone spends on something of mine, but I’m sometimes surprised what people respond to, and on the other hand what they don’t respond to. I just want people to give this book a look.

Craig: What things are people responding to?  What are your most popular books and movies?

Peter: I’d probably have to say that right now, the book, “The Past Is Going To Suck,” currently has the most readers.

Craig: Currently?

Peter: I mean, it’s been out for about four years. The Key West books go back almost ten years now. Over their history they’ve sold more copies.

Craig: And movies?

Peter: The first one, surprisingly.

Craig: That would be Long Strange Trip.

Peter: Yes, these things go in cycles. For a while around 2014, 2015, thousands of people were watching the second one, Movie Pizza Love on youtube. Now, Long Strange Trip, this old 1990’s thing, shot on film, gritty, low budget, suffers from the low budget in places. I’ve been getting paid for it by Amazon these last couple years. People are actually watching it more than something I might personally consider a better movie.

Craig: Do you care to say which movie you mean? Which one do you consider a better movie?

Peter: I’m not going to say. People can find my stuff. I want to focus on this new book, How To Confuse A.I.

Craig: Thanks for your time, Peter.

Peter: Good to see you, Craig. Say hi to Smitty for me.

Peter Wick (and Craig Joyce)

November 11. 2022