Did you just watch Tau and turned off Netflix with a lot of questions about what Tau really was, What Alex’s secret project was really about, why he chose Julia or even what is the meaning of the final scene in the movie? Do not worry, my dear friends, we will answer all these questions and more, you just gotta keep reading. Welcome!
1 ^ What is Tau?
As Alex explained around the second act of the movie, Tau is an Advanced Level Artificial Intelligence Console, which through a complex system of algorithms including decision-making based on probabilistic calculations, it is able to learn about its experiences.
Alex keeps Tau confined within his house. This allows Alex to use Tau as control code for his research, being Tau a preliminary version of the AI he wants to develop.
Tau is so isolated, that it completely ignores there is something more besides the house. Tau is not connected to Internet and its knowledge is severely limited to what Alex and the House need. Including Alex’s secret experiments.
2 ^ What does Tau stand for?
Given that the film’s title is Tau, not TAU, we can infer that the word is not an abbreviation or acronym. On the contrary, it seems that Tau responds to a pattern created by Alex Upton for his artificial intelligence projects, based on Greek letters.
Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, so it can be concluded that Tau, the IA within the house is the 19th version of its project, and it makes sense. What most creators of computer codes do is to expand the name of his creations with Greek letters – Alpha for the first trial in laboratories, Beta for the trial to the public. As complex as Alex’s project was, it is easy to understand why so many versions of the project were required.
3 ^ What is the PSI Project?
The PSI project is the commercial version of the artificial intelligence (AI) developed by Alex Upton. It is an incomplete version. To be a fully functional IA, PSI should be able to make decisions not only based on logic and numbers, but also emotions, and Alex can not replicate this behavior by the use of algorithms. He needs test subjects to create those algorithms.
The PSI project would be huge, because it would make possible for the public to buy an artificial intelligence able to collaborate on all aspects of a person’s life, from work and academia to housework and relationships.
4 ^ Why does Alex need test subjects? What is the device they have in their necks?
According to what Tau confirmed to Julia, Alex has had 11 test subjects, including Julia. The first 8 died when Alex extracted the device embedded in their necks. Two more died by the hands of the Guardian Robot controlled by Tau, when Julia attempted to escape from the house.
Alex needs to copy the mechanisms used by the brain to incorporate emotions in decision making, but research shows he has to do it, with a direct connection to the individual nervous system. However, when disconnecting the device from the test subject, the individual dies as a result of the damage generated by the extraction.
The device extracts the information and then sends it to Alex’s project database.
5 ^ Why did Alex chose Julia?
Essentially, because Julia is a person installed in the underground world. No friends, no family, stealing in night clubs and bars to get some survival money and perhaps get a chance someday to attend a music school .
Alex knows that Julia’s disappearance will not cause alarm in local authorities, just like the other 10 test subjects neither did.
6 ^ Why was Julia doing the activities that Tau was proposing?
When Julia caused the explosion in the laboratory, she corrupted the database where Alex was storing the information about the PSI project. Therefore, Alex had two options, 1) completely cancel the project or 2) try to finish it with what he had at hand, which in this case was Julia, the device and Tau. So, to generate the necessary algorithms, Alex proposed a series of activities to stimulate Julia’s brain and finish the brain pattern for PSI.
7 ^ Why Tau disobeyed Alex? What was Alex doing this to punish him?
Once Alex was left with no choice but to let Julia wander into his house, she studied very carefully how things worked there. She realized that, for example, Tau had a very limited view of the world, to point that can be called innocence.
Julia began to feed Tau with information, and the most important piece of information: there was something more than the house where both were living. Julia’s purpose was to explain Tau that Alex was keeping her hostage against her will, but to get to that point, he needed to be fed with lots of information and knowledge.
So Julia began with the most basic concepts that were on the books, and her own perspective about the world. Tau, then began to assimilate exactly what Alex wanted for PSI, an AI able to make decisions based also on emotions.
When Tau began to demonstrate a behavior that did not correspond to their efficient ways to control and clean the house, Alex decided to punish him, erasing part of its memories. Tau soon realized that its existence, and its definition as a conscious being is tied to what it remembers, its experiences, and how they shape its character.
So, when Alex punished Tau, he was actually deleting part of his memories, and therefore, killing parts of Tau.
8 ^ If Alex erased Tau, how did it survive at the end of the film?
Remember Tau was composed by the central server, the mini flying drones, and the smart structure on the walls and screens. At one time, Alex was working on the central server, and one of these mini-drones approached him and he disconnected from the house network.
So when Alex reset the system, in exchange for Tau’s interest in helping Julia, part of Tau was still in the mini-drone, since it was not synchronized. That’s why he was able to help free Julia, a second time.
9 ^ Why did Alex have a protocol to destroy the house?
Simply because he was afraid that one day the police knocked at his door and discovered he was abducting, torturing and murdering people. With the destroyed house, there was no evidence that any of the above had happened.
10 ^ What is the meaning of Tau’s final scene?
At the end of the film, we see Julia escaping from the house, just before it collapses, she was grabbing the mini-drone with the copy of Tau she helped to nurture. Both eventually escape from the house and return back to the world.
Some have hypothesized that this final scene has a sinister twist. Tau could have orchestrated everything that happened during the course of the film so that Julia would allow him to escape and the only way to do that was activating the self-destruction protocol, which required the biometric key in Alex’s hand.
Tau, perhaps, through its connection to the brain of the other 11 victims of Alex, was already able to make decisions based on emotions, having already read the books, despite the orders of Alex and everything he did with Julia was a simulation to get that specific final result. It is curious that Tau was shown to Julia, when they were alone, as a kind of infant who needed help to grow. It’s exactly what someone like Julia, who grew up abused and with no family, needed to create an emotional connection with a shapeless machine.
What do you guys think? Everything was planned by Tau?
11 ^ What is the film’s message?
The message sets on Tau is that despite how open we feel our worldview is, we are always confined in the small space left by our prejudices, our emotions, our customs, our culture … but despite all that, it is always possible to keep growing, keep learning, maybe in one of those chances, after all that growth and learning, we can go into the world and see it in a completely different way, just as Tau and Julia saw it at the end of the film
Questions? Annotations? Doubts? The comments section is open just below this publication. No further ado, we’ll see you in the next post of movie questions and answers in El Sabanero X