Why “The Circle” Producers Don't Think AI Could Win a Reality TV Competition: 'He Missed the Mark' (Exclusive)

Susan House and Niall O'Driscoll are confident that 'our future reality stars can sleep well' after Netflix introduced a fully-fake player to reality TV for the first time

<p>Netflix</p> Quori-Tyler "QT" plays season 6 of The Circle, complete with an AI competitor.


Quori-Tyler "QT" plays season 6 of The Circle, complete with an AI competitor.

It’s the end of the road for The Circle’s AI player.

Wednesday’s episodes of the Netflix reality social experiment revealed the true identity of Max, the technology catfish, to players. That means he won’t be continuing on for the chance to win the $100,000 prize, leaving it all to the humans.

Influencer Myles was tasked with removing an assumed AI from The Circle and opted for Steffi — a player many of the reality stars expected could be using a fake profile. Turns out, Steffi was real, and Max succeeded in staying entirely under the radar.

Related: The Circle Producers on Adding AI Max to Netflix Show as First Bot Contestant: 'We're Living In the Future' (Exclusive)

<p>Netflix</p> "Max" — an AI influencer — made history on reality TV and Netflix's The Circle.


"Max" — an AI influencer — made history on reality TV and Netflix's The Circle.

With strong strategy (from picking a relatable age to leaning into his role as a “dog dad”), Max’s game seemed unbreakable at points. But Netflix executive producers Susan House and Niall O’Driscoll don’t know if the bot has what it takes to actually win a reality series.

Revisiting Max’s few-episode run, there were a few moments that proved an AI character doesn’t have the human charm it takes to make the finale — especially during what House considered “one of the most strategic seasons ever.”

“I think that one thing that we sort of learned was even though Max was pretty incredible, he didn't quite understand a lot of the nuances that go into the communication within The Circle and just human emotion,” said showrunner House.

She cited particular moments when Max engaged in private chats and stayed neutral on strategy and opinion — something that frustrated the real players who had adopted real strategy.

Related: Groundbreaking Use of AI Technology Helps a Paralyzed Man Begin to Move Again

<p>Netflix</p> Brandon played as a catfish on season 6 of The Circle.


Brandon played as a catfish on season 6 of The Circle.

Max’s nice-guy neutral came to a head when he shared a selfie of himself in front of a group of cows. Influencers wondered how it matched the theme of the challenge, giving Max some of his first, negative feedback. “I don't think he could have won,” House said, citing the photo flub. “He missed the mark on that. I think that The Circle is a complex show. It's a complex game, which is what makes it so popular. I don't know if he could have read all those complexities.”

O’Driscoll added, “I think people start to see through that and they want more from someone. I am not sure he would've been able to deliver that. I'm not sure he would've ever made it to the final.”

While using AI was a fun experiment for Netflix, the magic of reality TV still lies in the unpredictable human nature that cameras capture in every range of emotions. “I think our future reality stars can sleep well,” O’Driscoll added. “They're not going to be replaced by AI bots anytime soon.”

He concluded, “One of the messages of The Circle is always like, you never know who's behind the screen. Max was in a way, the ultimate catfish. And that's in a way what AI is. You never know when you're talking to somebody online if it's real or not. There's so many examples now of dating apps with AI or even assistance on a furniture website. I just think it will just make me think in the future, who am I speaking to?”

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More episodes of The Circle are on the way, debuting each Wednesday until the May 8 finale.

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