Future Tense

Watch Carrie Fisher Lead a Group Therapy Session for Distressed Robots

How did the smart refrigerator make you feel?


Carrie Fisher has been getting a lot more attention lately thanks to the return of Star Wars last year, and so far she’s been a total champ. On Friday IBM released a new Watson commercial starring Fisher as a robot therapist, and she’s probably one of the only people who could make the sketch work.

Watson—of Jeopardy fame—is IBM’s question-answering computer that can understand queries inputted through natural language. (That means you can ask it questions as though it were human, and it can parse your speech.) Titled “Coping with Humans: A Support Group for Bots,” the scene depicts a group of misfit robots talking about their desire to perform their functions independent of humans. The robots agree it would be easier to do things like vacuum floors and take over the world if they didn’t have to interact with people at all. No argument here!

Fisher hits the perfect balance between investing in the scene and appearing to be totally over it. The whole “human emotions are a mystery” shtick is very C-3PO, after all.

Since systems like Watson (plus the Siris and Cortanas of the world) have made it more normal for robots to understand humans, Fisher brings Watson into the group session so the old-skool robots can confront their adversary directly. “I am a cognitive system,” Watson brags. “I can understand reason and learn with humans. I understand seven languages so I can help people collaborate.”

Some argue that Watson has true artificial intelligence, while others say that Watson and its ilk don‘t represent fully realized A.I. But to the single-purpose robots in the video, the A.I. war is already over, and Watson has won. It is an IBM ad, after all.