Devs: Alex Garland Explores New AI Avenues in FX Series

After Ex Machina and Annihilation, Alex Garland takes on artificial intelligence and quantum computing in his new FX series, Devs.

It’s difficult to get a clear idea of what Devs, the latest project from acclaimed Ex Machina and Annihilation writer/director Alex Garland, is about just by watching the trailer, but based on a few clips of the eight episode television series presented at New York Comic Con and our press room interviews with the cast, the show is certain to explore similar themes to Garland’s earlier work and will no doubt please those who enjoy his signature take on morality and science.

Devs (short for “developers”) follows the exploits of software engineer Lily Chan, played by Sonoya Mizuno, at the Amaya Corporation, a company on the bleeding edge of quantum computing and predictive software. After a mysterious death in the development team, Lily begins to dig deeper into what’s really going on with the company and its eccentric CEO Forest, played with bearded, long-haired glory by Nick Offerman.

“I’m really interested in science; I read a lot about science,” explains Garland. “I do my best to understand what’s happening and the way thinking is changing, and there’s elements to do with not just quantum computers but quantum mechanics on which the computers are based. I find it fascinating, and it’s an interesting area to get interested in because the more you understand, the stranger it gets. Rather than feeling like it’s all unraveling in front of you and becoming clear, it’s actually becoming stranger and more obscure, and there’s something wonderful about that.”

FX’s Devs from Alex Garland Debuts First Teaser

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Mizuno and many of the other actors portraying the devs of Devs had to take a crash course in how to act like computer experts. “The main source was Alex,” says Mizuno, “because he knew so much about the quantum physics side of it. So we learned a lot from him, and then I remember we were sending YouTube videos to each other about quantum encryption. And, you know, you read a lot of books, and I did a short one-day course on coding.”

Karl Glusman, who plays Lily’s boyfriend Sergei in Devs, took a different route to prepare. “I bought this book called Artificial Intelligence for Dummies, and it was really interesting actually,” he says. “You know, you watch all these movies like Terminator where you see what AI is going to do in the future, and it’s quite limited what artificial intelligence can do right now. It was very informative, but I’m in no way a specialist on computer engineering or artificial intelligence.”

For more insight into Devs and the characters and story involved, be sure to check out our full set of interviews in the video below. We hear from Garland, Mizuno, and Glusman as well as Jin Ha, Alison Pill, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zach Grenier, and executive producer Allon Reich.

Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.