'Upload' creator and cast discuss the show's digital afterlife

The panel is part of Comic Con at Home 2020.

If you could upload your consciousness before dying and live on forever in a posh, cushy digital afterlife, would you do it? That’s one of many questions at the core of Amazon’s recently debuted series Upload. I was able to speak at length with the show’s creator, writer and producer Greg Daniels (who’s also behind The Office and Parks and Rec), as well as the cast, for a Comic Con At Home panel. In addition to finding out which of the team would “upload” if they could, we also discussed the many gadgets and apps that enrich the world of Upload, as well as whether such an upload is a true transference of consciousness.

It’s a concept that’s been debated for years. As Ross from Friends put it, with computers sophisticated enough to perform the same amount of functions as a human brain, “theoretically, you could download your thoughts and memories into this computer and live forever as a machine.” The notion has been explored in more recent shows like Altered Carbon and Black Mirror, and Upload is one of the latest to envision digital immortality.

Unlike other sci-fi shows, which tend to dwell in somber and foreboding tones, Upload has taken a more upbeat approach. In fact, Daniels has described the series as a "philosophical romantic comedy science fiction murder mystery." And though that sounds like potential for a huge mess, Upload manages to use its premise to explore a multitude of questions about the consequences of a digital afterlife without becoming unwieldy.

Amazon Upload green screen Robbie Amell in self-driving car
Amazon Studios, Prime Video

The show, which launched in May, revolves around programmer bro Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell), who gets uploaded into luxurious digital afterlife Lakeview owned by Horizen (which sounds very similar to Engadget parent company Verizon). There, he meets Nora Antony (Andy Allo), his customer service rep, also known as an “Angel,” and residents like Luke Crossley (Kevin Bigly), and develops friendships with them. Brown’s entire digital afterlife is financed by his wealthy girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards), so he’s pretty much entirely dependent on her, which makes things awkward when he wants to break up. It’s a tricky situation, because him and Nora start to have feelings for each other.

In one scene, Brown and Antony visit a lower level of Lakeview where the less-privileged 2-gig residents live. These are people who can’t or can no longer afford the unlimited plan, and aren’t given things like clothes, toys or even, in some cases, genitalia. They don’t even have complete books to read — just the free sample of a few pages.

Moved to frustration, Brown exclaims “It’s just code!” In that moment alone, Upload forces the viewer to ask several questions. Would you risk handing so much power over to a “digital afterlife” provider who you might not eventually be able to fight against in real life? Who should be allowed to “upload”? Is Brown himself aware that when he says a book “is just code” that he himself is also just a product of programming?

We ask this and several more questions of Daniels and the cast relating to the show’s realistic portrayal of tech in the future. You can watch it above, on Comic Con’s official site or Amazon’s Virtual Con.

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