The Fear Index, a four-part psychological thriller based on Robert Harris’s bestselling novel of the same name, explores the ethical and moral issues surrounding the application of artificial intelligence to business and poses some pertinent questions about the morality of using scientific advances for the sole purpose of profit.
Alex Hoffman is played by Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, The Black Dahlia), a wealthy technology entrepreneur who invents an AI-driven system capable of anticipating how human anxiety impacts behavior and, in turn, how it influences the financial market swings around the world. For Alex’s multibillionaire clientele, this knowledge promises not only power but also significant profits. Line of Duty alum Arsher Ali plays Alex’s best friend and business partner Hugo, and Leila Farzad (I Hate Suzie) plays Alex’s wife Gabby in the series directed by David Caffrey (Peaky Blinders, The Alienist).
The plot follows Alex, a former scientist at the CERN particle physics laboratory, as he prepares to launch his morally dubious money-making scheme over the course of a 24-hour period. Dr. Alexander Hoffman, who has both the money and the computers. He and his charismatic/showboating CEO Hugo Quarry (Arsher Ali) are set to seek a fresh round of investment from all of the company’s existing wealthy investors, as well as some new ones, because, as I understand it, you can never have enough wealthy investors. Hoffman has just come up with a… algorithm? What exactly is an artificial intelligence system? Is it possible to have a whole computer with extra intelligent pieces slapped on it? I’m not sure, but it’s a MacGuffin called VIXAL-4, and what it does is crunch a tonne of data and use it to predict events that no human could ever predict. It’s incredible.
The Fear Index Ending
However, due to the events of the night before, Dr. Hoffman almost misses the vital meeting with the wealthy investors. To wit, he received the first edition of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals from someone (not his wife, nor anybody else who knew about his interest in it). Someone gets through his state-of-the-art security system (there aren’t any other kinds when you’re a money-science-computer-business-genius). Big H is knocked unconscious by a straggly-haired invader who enters the residence. Hoffman ordered the book himself, according to the book merchant, and the straggly-haired visitor looks just like one of the fearful faces in the 1872 book. Is someone interfering with Dr. H’s thoughts, or is it his own? Is someone toying with Dr. H’s mind, or is he messing with his own?
But wait, where is the money? You’ll be relieved to learn that it is rising! The VIXAL-4 MacGuffin has been up and running for a week, and the investors are overjoyed to learn that it has made them literally heaps of cash (pardon the technical lingo). The bullish Quarry and the preoccupied Hoffman pay scant attention to risk manager Marieme’s (AIssa Ma1ga) behind-the-scenes protests about the terrible risk-exposure levels associated with utilizing the AI. But I’m confident that everything will work out.
The Fear Index Ending Explained: Is Hoffman Crazy?
Of course, this is all in good fun. As whoever is invading Hoffman’s life and security code continue to disclose more and more of their interfering hand, layers upon layers of mystery, tension, and complication build up satisfyingly swiftly. Unless, of course, everything is a delusional delusion perpetrated by Hoffman. VIXAL-4’s ability to predict and profit from calamities that no human could have predicted is increasingly alarming. Fear of going nuts, fear of the unknown, fear of robots taking over our lives, fear of failure and danger, and humanity’s painfully predictable responses to all of these fears entwine neatly around the viewers’ throats.
So as we see in the end, Alexander Hoffman has 3rd-degree burns in certain parts of his body, 2nd degree burns in another part of his body. And it shows that the NEXT 24 HOURS will be more important than the previous 24 hours. Also that something big is going to happen to him, but it just cuts to the black screen. Hinting that there would be a second to it. But we have to wait I guess.
It’s good and satisfying material. And Hartnett, who imbues Hoffman with a tangible, credible, and more corrosive fearfulness from the start, gives it a terrific boost. It has a genuine feel about it. It appears that he is actually suffering, and he is a significant step up from the main man’s normal moments of hyperventilation and darting eyes at critical screenplay points. Don’t worry, you’ll have a good time.