In developing Sleep Easy, I wanted to explore the racial implications of artificial intelligence and surveillance technology. There’s been a lot of work on this subject (Simone Browne’s Dark Matters, for instance), but it is still something that has very real consequences that affect non-white people. Since a lot of the popular films and media surrounding artificial intelligence are concerned with the gendered implications of this phenomenon (which are valid), there is not much attention on how people of color, and especially Black people, are going to be the most susceptible to harm that comes from facial recognition technology. There’s a lot to think about and a limited amount of pages, so I hope for the conversation to become bigger and more expansive than I could hope to fit in a short screenplay. — Namrata Prakash
Namrata Prakash is a fourth year Radio-Television Film major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Along with being a Good Systems Creative Fellow, she is currently working as a Development Intern at BBC Studios LA (through spirit and in time zone). Namrata is pursuing a career in screenwriting, and when she’s not workshopping drafts she is rewatching Succession and trying to understand why the theme song is that freakin’ good.
With “(A)ff(I)rmation,” I wanted to explore the relationship between artificial intelligence and gender identity as well as the potential conflicts that occur when human concepts brush up against the AI’s “thought process,” which is so far from how humans actually think. At the same time, I have seen how few explicitly trans narratives exist within science fiction, and as a nonbinary writer I wanted to explore that space. The nuanced, often contradictory way than all people, but especially trans people, understand gender has little in common with the binary processes that power artificial intelligence. I’m less interested in exploring whether the introduction of artificial intelligence, in this case as a companion and smart home, is good or bad as opposed to the unique ways in which people and AI brush up against each other. — Scotty Villhard
Scotty Villhard is a Senior at UT Austin studying film and creative writing. Outside of school, Scotty is co-producer of the Foot in the Door Theatre Troupe and president of the Longhorn Tabletop Gaymers, an LGBTQ+-centric tabletop roleplaying game organization. Scotty has acted and directed in a number of theatrical productions with Foot in the Door Theatre and their short films have been shown at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase and the Texas Union Film Festival.