‘NEXT’ Pits Marvel Star John Slattery Against Technology Scarier Than Howard Stark’s

As you may be reading this article on your phone, FOX has a new drama about the dangers of technology. In NEXT, a powerful artificial intelligence threatens mankind, so tech mogul Paul LeBlanc (John Slattery) tries to sound the warning. Slattery is known for his roles on Desperate Housewives, Mad Men and in the Marvel films as Howard Stark.

John Slattery vs. NeXt
John Slattery Jean Whiteside/FOX

Slattery was on a Television Critics Association panel for NEXT. He discussed how plausible the story of his new show could be. NEXT airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

John Slattery says ‘NEXT’ is not sci-fi

In the Marvel movies, Howard Stark was a pioneer of technology that paved the way for his son to become Iron Man. On NEXT, rather, Slattery is simply dealing with technology that already exists. 

NEXT star John Slattery
John Slattery |Ed Araquel/FOX

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“The mandate of the show initially was we are not doing a sci-fi show,” Slattery said. “The more mundane usage of this AI is the most frightening. This thing gives a kid the combination to the gun safe. It’s a very simple equation that ends up with potentially horrific results. It isn’t necessarily the highest concept usage of the AI that’s the most frightening. It’s the simple stuff.”

‘NEXT’ technology could be deadlier than Stark Industries

Stark Industries invented JARVIS technology which is artificial intelligence that helps Iron Man. Slattery cautions NEXT viewers about the simpler technology that already runs their lives. 

John Slattery and Fernanda Andrade
John Slattery and Fernanda Andrade | Shane Harvey/FOX

“Waking up and seeing zeros in your bank account, those simple hackable opportunities could lead to,” Slattery said. “It’s the nonlinear attack of getting us to fight with each other thereby giving it time to go somewhere else. It’s a manhunt without a man, with a ticking clock that isn’t sure either.”

Technology isn’t all bad 

Slattery was also sure to give credit to some positive uses of artificial intelligence. However, NEXT will have fun with all the scary applications. 

“There was a story in the New York Times about AI being used to determine whether a tumor is cancerous,” Slattery said. “They do a biopsy in real time. The patient is on the table. They have to take the tissue to the lab, freeze it, stain it, look at it through a microscope while the person is on the table, waiting to determine whether the surgery proceeds or you sew the person up and they go home. AI is being used to do that a hundred times faster and with other different types of cancer.”

NEXT: John Slattery
John Slattery | Jean Whiteside/FOX

Slattery sees how even this sort of technology could lead to disaster.

“The question in this show is you take that technology and that intelligence, and you remove the assumption that that intelligence has your best interest at heart,” Slattery said.  “If it was convenient, [it could] let you know maybe you have something that you don’t have and let you get a brain operation that you don’t need so that you are marginalized while it does what it wants to do. When you think about it, the ripples are exponential.”