CBS Is Developing AI Thriller Burn-In

CBS is developing a TV series based on P.W. Singer and August Cole’s recent novel Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution, which hit stores earlier this summer. Deadline says that Elementary creator Rob Doherty is behind the adaptation along with producer Dan Lin (It Chapter Two, Lego Movie, and Sherlock Holmes).

Singer and Cole both come from the policy and think tank world (Singer is a fellow at the New America Foundation, while Cole is a fellow at the Atlantic Council.) The two previously collaborated on 2016’s Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, which drew the last decade’s worth of foreign policy and technological developments to create a realistic look at what a third World War might look like.

Burn-In takes a similar approach, but with robotics. Set in the very near future, it follows FBI Special Agent Lara Keegan as she’s assigned a robotic partner as part of a field test: the Bureau wants to see if the robot and others like it would be useful in the field. She and her new companion, TAMS (Tactical Autonomous Mobility System) are thrust into a growing investigation as a technology-adverse extremist is trying to wreck havoc in Washington DC, hacking into city infrastructure and threatening to kill thousands of people. Singer and Cole go beyond recent advances in technology for inspiration in this book—they look at the rising tide of white supremacy, violent militia groups, and movements against major technology firms.

Word of the the project comes just after Netflix just released a new trailer for its upcoming film, Outside the Wire, which finds a soldier paired up with a robot during a war in the not-too-distant future. Should the project make it through the development process, it feels as though it would also pair up nicely with another CBS series: Jonathan Nolan’s Person of Interest. Hopefully, we’ll see it before the present catches up with the future.

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