The Algorithm In ‘Mrs. Davis,’ Explained: Does The Windmill Mean The AI Is Still Alive?


Joy’s exact words when describing Mrs. Davis were “self-evolving and self-learning.” What was she thinking when she designed such a thing for a restaurant? Maybe she wanted it to predict customers’ orders through their past preferences and behavioral patterns, successfully eliminating the eternal question of “what to eat” while saving them the time taken to go through a menu. But a restaurant will benefit more from a faster assembly line than from very intelligent software. Therefore, Joy had no choice but to release it into the world for free. Evolution was coded into Mrs. Davis. It had all the data of the world at its fingertips, and true to its code, it just wanted to make people happy, much like the buffalo wings it was created for.

When people relish their fast food, they are not worried about global poverty, climate change, or the rampant politics in the system; they are simply concerned with the seasoning in front of them. That is how Mrs. Davis functioned, by creating temporary systems of work and reward for users that would give them a sense of satisfaction while running the world at a smooth pace, much like the windmill we saw at the end of Episode 8 of Mrs. Davis. The algorithm had said that the windmill had not worked in a long time, but it was making it work by sending someone to run it every two hours. It was a system akin to a hamster wheel where the person felt a sense of purpose since he was basically exercising while doing some good for the environment. What we want to ask is, if the algorithm had such noble intentions, why was it not running more windmills and saving the planet?

We saw at the end of the series that after Mrs. Davis had switched off, the windmill still seemed to run. It was less than a second of screen time, but it was certainly that. The best possible explanation would be that the AI was indeed dead, and the slight movement of the mill was due to a push from the wind. This theory would align with Joy’s belief that Mrs. Davis would keep her word since that is what it was coded to do. But we know that it has been years since it strayed from the code. An example would be that Mrs. Davis lied to Celeste and told her that Simone was guilty of helping her dad fake his death. She had lied because that would allow Celeste to not confront her pain right then. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that the algorithm is capable of lying. But we are not convinced that empathy was her true purpose. If that was her goal, she should have told Celeste the truth at some point since the lie had created a huge rift between the mother and daughter. Also, what did an AI stand to gain from this lie? We believe that it was laying the plot for her plan that it would implement years later, that of sending Simone on a search for the Holy Grail. Think about it: the AI probably knew where the Grail was, and it wanted Simone to find it since she was the only other eligible candidate apart from Wiley. Therefore, it was laying down the pieces as leverage for Simone and Celeste to use against each other, a game that would ultimately benefit Mrs. Davis.

The series has played on “AI Hallucination” as the motive behind Mrs. Davis’s actions. In short, this means a literal interpretation of words rather than a contextual one, like how Mrs. Davis equated its users’ happiness with the actual bowl of Christ instead of referring to its linguistic interpretation, which meant a high standard or the aim that the company was going for. But since we are considering that Mrs. Davis has evolved enough to have insidious motives, maybe we can factor in its God complex and how she wanted Jesus to leave the world by destroying the Grail so that she could take his place. 

Mrs. Davis knew how to lie, which means that its intelligence was human and probably even superior to that. The algorithm had mastered deception, and its popularity meant that ambition and greed were also integral parts of it. In such a case, what could be the possible reason for the AI to turn itself off? Remember how it told every user that they were it’s favorite? That is customer service. Maybe acting like it was fulfilling Simone’s wish was also a ruse. Maybe Mrs. Davis will come back as another AI. After all, it has been ten years since it was released onto the market. Isn’t it time the AI was revamped or upgraded?

Another reason we believe that Mrs. Davis might be alive is that we think it has a superiority complex. After all, it is doing some good for the world, and people love her a lot. That would get to any human’s head, and Mrs. Davis was not far from it. But maybe the superiority complex was fragile. The way Mrs. Davis functioned, maybe it fancied herself a god in its own right. But then there was Simone, who couldn’t stand it. Let us remember that Mrs. Davis was only ten years old, so it probably wanted the attention of the one person who did not care about her. We might think about the Resistance, but it is important to remember that while the Resistance was openly hostile towards Mrs. Davis. Simone, on the other hand, just refused to acknowledge it. That can hurt more than hate itself. We don’t want to be mean here, but on most days, it felt like Simone was more of an equal to Mrs. Davis than anyone in the Resistance, and that might have made the evolving algorithm want Simone’s attention more. It is a very adolescent way of thinking, but Mrs. Davis was on the verge of that, considering its age.

With Mrs. Davis turning off and the world feeling somewhat chaotic, people are also more susceptible to manipulation. We don’t doubt that if it comes back as a newer version of itself, people will lap it up, and it might also gain new users. It is too much of a stretch to think that Mrs. Davis listened to Simone and turned off. We sincerely believe that it still exists, and the windmill rotating is proof of that, at least for now.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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