How to Grease a Chatbot: E-Commerce Companies Seek a Backdoor Into AI ResponsesRead more

Aug. 27, 2022 7:00 AM PDT

Near the end of Season Three of “For All Mankind,” Dev Ayesa, the show’s stratospherically ambitious CEO, makes a risky pitch to his employees without seeming to consider the possible downsides—for them. His company, Helios, has already revolutionized renewable energy and for-profit space travel. Now he wants the staff to take pay cuts and give up stock options to leap into another abyss with him.

“When the conversation turns financial, that’s just a pure blind spot” for Ayesa, said Edi Gathegi, the 43-year-old Kenya-born actor (“Twilight,” “X-Men: First Class,” “The Blacklist”) who plays him. “He is so rich that he hadn’t considered that would be a problem for anybody that he was appealing to.”

Hmm, a brash tech visionary with his head in the sky and a trail of disgruntled people around him on Earth: That sounds rather…familiar? It should. Ayesa has some obvious parallels to our real-life Elon Musk. But the character is more than a pastiche Elon, and it’s the consistent ability of “Mankind” to believably reimagine real-world people, events and technology that has made the Apple TV+ show stand out—no phasers set to stun, no Kessel Runs.

The series first takes off by rethinking the space race—the Soviets beat America to the moon in episode 1—and by season 3, crews from the U.S., the USSR and Ayesa’s for-profit Helios have made it to Mars. As viewers catch up to the recently concluded Season Three, we asked Gathegi about the tech leaders who informed his portrayal, the show’s alternative vision for the future and whether he’d ever want to become a real-life CEO.

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Microsoft's Satya Nadella, left, and Peter Lee. Photo by Bloomberg, Microsoft
How Microsoft Swallowed Its Pride to Make a Massive Bet on OpenAI
Satya Nadella didn’t want to hear it. Last December, Peter Lee, who oversees Microsoft’s sprawling research efforts, was briefing Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, and his deputies about a series of tests Microsoft had conducted of GPT-4, the then-unreleased new artificial intelligence large-language model built by OpenAI.
Art by Clark Miller
The AI Age e-commerce ai
How to Grease a Chatbot: E-Commerce Companies Seek a Backdoor Into AI Responses
When Andy Wilson’s company received its first successful client referral through ChatGPT, he was shaken to his core.
Chris Britt, co-founder and CEO of Chime.
Exclusive startups Finance
Chime’s Slowdown Highlights Limits of Bank Disruptors
Chime found a way to offer zero-fee banking services without being a bank itself. But that approach is starting to show its limits.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read markets Finance
The Master of Destruction Rides Again
In the spring of 2022, the irascible Wall Street short seller Marc Cohodes was in a particularly foul mood.
Art by Mike Sullivan
startups asia
Venture Capitalists Face Pressure to Divest From China
Silicon Valley venture capitalists are coming to terms with a new reality: Their once-prized China investments may be victims of a simmering cold war.
Art by Clark Miller.
Social Studies culture
The Day TikTok Went Dark in India
On June 29, 2020, as thunderstorms swept Mumbai and daily Covid-19 cases in India surged by almost 20,000, millions of people began experiencing a flood of network errors on their mobile devices.