Turns out the wisdom of the crowd isn't always so wise. CBS' new drama Wisdom of the Crowd dramatizes what would happen if law enforcement used crowd sourcing — the idea of getting multiple bits of information from many people to achieve a common goal (think Yelp or Amazon reviews) — to solve crimes when tech billionaire Jeffrey Tanner (Jeremy Piven) creates an app that does just that after the death of his daughter.
But show creator Ted Humphrey knows it won't just be good citizens nabbing crooks, and at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday acknowledged that this kind of technology could be used for doing bad just as much as it could be used for good. Humphrey said Wisdom of the Crowd is going to show both sides of the technology's potential and ask thought-provoking questions while intertwining his characters' arcs in the narrative, much like his previous show The Good Wife did.
"[The technology at the heart of this] particular premise at its best is pooling enough resources as you possibly can, crystallizing how that is used," Piven said. "The worst is vigilante behavior." He continued, "I think anyone who has ever heard this premise, they all say pretty much the same thing, which is that it could pretty much happen today. I think we're playing with something that feels very authentic and very accessible."
In fact, the whole idea of problems arising from misusing the technology will come up in the pilot. Humphrey said that not only will someone who is accused of a crime be the victim of vigilante justice, but bystanders would also be at risk. The show will also deal with how the tech is steered toward being used correctly and how it will avoid legal pitfalls of class-action lawsuits, which in reality, would likely ground the project immediately, no matter how effective it is.
"We all know the internet has changed the world, but the question is to what?" Humphrey said, quoting a line Tanner said in the pilot but was cut due to the episode's length. Humphrey wants to explore that idea, and how the internet has changed our lives, for better or worse. "Part of the message of the show is to take a really hard look at exactly how that's happening and how it continues to shape it."
But not everyone thinks it's a bad idea to crowd source crime fighting. Monica Potter, who plays Congresswoman Alex Hale, says, "I think it would be great." However, she also cautions that she's no expert. "I'm not a techie, I still use a Filofax."
Wisdom of the Crowd premieres Sunday, Oct. 1 at 8:30/7:30c on CBS.
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