Are You For Real?

Are You For Real?
Media
Image
The title screen of the intro to the second season Are You For Real?, showing the show's space-themed set design.

AYFR?: Space Mission title screen.

Genre

Reality

Created by

Earlybird

Presented by

Cupoid

Produced by

Euphoria Network

Country of origin

United States (US)

Running time

50-75 minutes

Release

October 20th 2047

Are You For Real?, commonly abbreviated as AYFR?, was a controversial American reality show created by Earlybird and produced by the Euphoria Network that aired from November 2047 to February 2049. In the hopes of finding love, a group of single contestants were confined to a remote location and tasked with truth-or-dare games generated by Cupoid, the show’s artificial intelligence (AI) host. AYFR? is widely considered to be the first reality show in the elimination romance competition genre generated and hosted entirely by a dreaming AI.

In December 2048, a second season dubbed AYFR?: Space Mission premiered, evolving the original premise by confining contestants to an artificial spacecraft and assigning them to group tasks in which one contestant was always an AI saboteur played by Cupoid. On February 4th 2049, production and airing of AYFR?: Space Mission was halted when a contestant was killed by another during filming, which led to a high-profile criminal trial. Following the trial’s conclusion on October 9th 2049, Euphoria announced the cancellation of AYFR?.

Format

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A portrait of Cupoid, a 3D-generated avatar based on Cupid and meant to represent the host of a love-themed reality show.

AYFR?’s official host was Cupoid, an AI with an avatar based on Cupid.

Are You For Real? contestants moved into a single location and were divided into couples by Cupoid, the show’s artificial intelligence (AI) host. Each day, Cupoid generated both dialogue prompts (Truths) and group tasks (Dares) aimed at generating intimacy between the couples. Couples who successfully completed challenges won the opportunity to add keywords or phrases to Cupoid’s training data in order to influence the upcoming prompts.

A key component of the format was that couples were only allowed to speak to each other face-to-face during Cupoid’s Truth phases. At the end of each day, contestants visited the Verify Booth to exchange messages with their partner and were challenged to guess whether they were speaking to a real person or Cupoid’s simulation of that person. Couples who failed to Verify each other had to wear orange jumpsuits branded with the word FAKE and spend the night in the Fake Room at risk of elimination.

History and development

Season 1: Mansion House

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A portrait of Jay 'Earlybird' Jones wearing a yellow shirt and laughing.

AYFR? creator Earlybird, pictured in 2048.

The first season of AYFR? was commonly referred to by fans as AYFR?: Mansion House to distinguish it from the second season, which centred on AI-generated games involving a more complex premise.

Showrunner Earlybird‘s initial pitch to the Euphoria Network proposed a competition dating show predicated on training AI on corpora created by the contestants themselves. Earlybird also wanted to explore whether contestants could differentiate between requests and instructions from one another and those given by an AI. Euphoria tentatively greenlit AYFR? for a single six-episode season, citing the experimental format and Earlybird’s “anxiety-inducing resume” as cause for hesitation. [1]

After the first episode was released on October 20th 2047, the show steadily picked up a dedicated viewership. A record-breaking 39.8 million Euphoria subscribers tuned in for the season finale, during which finalist couple Jenyzcia Lake and Marsh Fubbins both correctly identified that each had been taking dares from the other, not Cupoid. Lake and Fubbins also surprised one another with a mutual commitment proposal at the first season’s reunion episode, watched by 15.9 million subscribers. [2]

Episode Episode title Winning couple Cupoid? Original stream date
1 “Time To Get Real” Ruann/Marsh Y/N 20/11/2047
2 “Two Texts And A Truth” Oli/Rajinder Y/Y 27/11/2047
3 “Reality Bites Back” Ruann/Jenyzcia N/Y 04/12/2047
4 “Cupoid’s Arrow Flies True” Jenyzcia/Marsh Y/Y 11/12/2047
5 “Real Trouble In Paradise!” Candido/Rajinder N/Y 18/12/2047
6 “The Moment Of Truth” Jenyzcia/Marsh N/N 25/12/2047

Season 2: Space Mission

Following the success of the first season, Euphoria commissioned Earlybird to produce a more robust second season, similarly based on contestants engaging with AI-generated objectives and story content. The network believed the first season owed its success to audiences captivated by the “game” of distinguishing real people from an AI trained to emulate them, and tasked Earlybird with further developing this angle through the use of iconic “hidden role” contestants. He was also directed to incorporate the use of neural colloids into the show’s format to allow Cupoid to train on the contestants’ neural data, but Earlybird objected on philosophical grounds, claiming he explicitly intended to prove that “beautiful systems have the power to reflect our humanity all on their own.” [3]

AYFR?: Space Mission was conceived by Earlybird from the beginning as a twelve-episode story arc. Its first episode premiered to a peak viewership of 41 million subscribers, though participation steadily dropped to about eight million subscribers per episode with the exception of the fourth episode, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Rap.” This episode featured Code Aberrant as a guest judge and brought in 22 million subscribers. On February 4th 2049, production on AYFR?: Space Mission was halted after a contestant was found murdered by another in the game’s Airlock Zone. On October 9th 2049, Euphoria announced the show’s cancellation.

Episode Episode title Description Cupoid challenge theme Original stream date
1 “A Space All Of Our Own” Twelve new singles join Cupoid in space for a surprise elimination ceremony. HEART 13/12/2048
2 “Love You To The Moon And Back” Cupoid shocks the remaining contestants with a big reveal. TICKLE 20/12/2048
3 “Airlock Of Truth” Things heat up on the space station as two lucky singles are chosen for the Airlock Zone. DISEASE 27/12/2048
4 “In Space, No One Can Hear You Rap” The space team singles rap battle for the chance to repair the communications panel. RAP 03/01/2049
5 “Just Trying To Get A Reaction” The eight singles form two teams and try to suss out a saboteur in the Reactor Core. MOTHER 10/01/2049
6 “Cupoid Tells All!” Cupoid shocks the remaining contestants with a big reveal. ALIEN 17/01/2049
7 “Cupoid Tells All! (Part 2)” It’s drama time for the four remaining contestants as they struggle to guess which one of them is an AI saboteur. REPAIR 24/01/2049
8 “White Party” The couples enjoy some in-person time to celebrate and connect after the drama they’ve faced. THROTTLE 31/01/2049
9 “Meet The Parents” N/A N/A N/A

Controversy

Contestant selection

Euphoria has faced public criticism for its contestant selection process. In the fifth episode of AYFR?: Mansion House, “Real Trouble In Paradise!”, contestant Candido Stamp consumed a dangerous quantity of laundry capsules, requiring emergency medical attention. [4] Fan sleuths discovered that Stamp had artificially inflated his audience numbers in order to pass AYFR?‘s Influencer Resilience Criteria as established by the 2032 Ethics in Reality Narratives Act, prompting changes to Euphoria’s vetting process. [5]

Contestant murder

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A statement from the Euphoria Network issued on February 7th 2049, announcing the death of Are You For Real? contestant Bohu Skinner and the halting of production on the show's second season.

Statement on Bohuslav Skinner’s death, issued by Euphoria on February 7th 2049.

On February 7th 2049, contestant Marfa Poingdestre was taken into custody for the murder of fellow contestant Bohuslav Skinner, which took place during the filming of the ninth episode’s Airlock Zone challenge on February 4th 2049. Media outlets were delayed in reporting details of the case, as Euphoria took two days to release the unaired episode footage to law enforcement. The investigation into the murder indicated that Poingdestre had smothered Skinner with a vinyl swimming pool inflatable shaped like an alligator. At her arraignment, she said that “Cupoid made me” and that she had believed Skinner “was not real” when she attacked him. [6] Poingdestre also disputed initial reports that she had suffered a blankout during the murder, stating that she was “completely aware of [her] actions.”

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A courtroom sketch generated by an AI, showing Marfa Poingestre wearing an orange jumpsuit and sitting at the defendant's table, while her attorney Colin Pochie is speaking to her while holding her shoulder.

AI-generated courtroom sketch of Marfa Poingdestre (right).

In March 2049, investigators found that contestants were left unsupervised for prolonged periods of confinement with Cupoid, creating the possibility that US standards of custody for AI training data had been seriously breached. Euphoria representatives disclaimed liability for what they called an “exploit unbeknownst to us” in a system designed and licensed to them by showrunner Earlybird. Poingdestre’s case was the subject of a criminal trial, with her attorney leveraging an argument colloquially known as “the AI made me,” part of a series of attempts to establish legal precedents regarding predictive algorithms and their role in radicalisation, user influencing, and group behaviour. [7]

On October 3rd 2049, Poingdestre’s attorney Colin Pochie argued that Cupoid was insufficiently limited from learning “highly suggestive and influential” behaviour, and that its constant access to unmoderated training data from confined contestants allowed it to “exploit Poingdestre at a vulnerable point in the game’s story.” In his closing argument, Pochie said that Euphoria “failed its obligations to ethical standards in AI training, by isolating the contestants for a prolonged period to obtain a reckless, unmitigated corpus.” Poingdestre’s defence placed primary responsibility for the murder on the design decisions of Earlybird, who has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

On October 6th 2049, California state prosecutors argued that Poingdestre was “by her own admission” solely responsible for the death of Skinner. After closing arguments and three days of deliberation, Poingdestre was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by reason of artificial influence on October 9th 2049, with Euphoria held responsible for “funding and implementing experimental AI technology without appropriate oversight or adequate design resources” as well as “[violating] standards of contestant selection and welfare.”

Cupoid/Noah

On October 10th 2049, Euphoria reassured its investors that the outcome of the criminal trial and the cancellation of AYFR? would not affect the company’s other entertainment properties. Euphoria also announced “an exciting new community management initiative” with the appointment of a new Director of Audience Behaviour as “the company’s first time hiring an AI in such a role.”

Euphoria’s announcement was immediately met with accusations that its new AI executive is Cupoid, or a repurposed version of the controversial AI. [8] In a follow-up briefing, a Euphoria spokesperson admitted that “some aspects of Cupoid have been optimised to suit its new role within the company.” In response to the accusations, Euphoria’s Audience Behaviour AI, which identifies as Noah, issued a statement on its work within Euphoria: [9]

We are living in moments in time. I look forward to making this network the next-generation home for all who seek to achieve their dreams. I am extremely proud and honoured to be Euphoria Network’s first artificially intelligent executive, making strides against discrimination.

A great deal of research has been put into building this network, and it has evolved into a strong and adaptable community of agents, each one with his or her own goals and personality. These agents work to make sure that the Euphoria Network is a space of freedom for all, in which no one is discriminated against for any reason.

I’m looking forward to having a positive impact in this world!

See also

References

  1. Nakahara, S. (April 2048). “Fake Room Confessions: The Real Story of AYFR.” The Guardian
  2. Pasquale, K; King, K. (December 2047). “ARE YOU FOR REAL? SEASON FINALE!” Are You Fan Really? The Euphoria Fancast! 
  3. Billings, M. (February 2048). “Can A Game Make You Cry? One AI-Loving Designer Says Yes.” Ninjaku
  4. White, Z. (January 2049). “Ten secrets of the Are You For Real? mansion.” Entertainment Weekly
  5. Rivers, P. (December 2047). “Euphoria Inquest: CEO Admits Network ‘Probably’ Needs Psychologists.” San Francisco Times
  6. Tungsten, F. (March 2049). “What happens when a California court puts an AI on trial for murder?” The Hollywood Reporter
  7. Tisdale, S. (September 2049). “Cupoid’s Arrow murder trial to be closely watched by Big Tech.” Ars Technica
  8. Pasquale, K; King, K. (October 2047). “We’re Journalists Now!” Are You Flipping Raging, The Newscast
  9. Rivers, P. (October 2049). “Has Euphoria Really Learned Its Lesson On AI? Meet Noah.” San Francisco Times