If you’re here then chances are you’ve been watching DEVs on FX. It’s an absolutely outstanding show that has several mysteries surrounding it namely what is it that the devs do?
In order to explain that we have to explain the machine itself, how it operates and why it explains several things about the universe.
Throughout this, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about the machine and if it’s accurate or not.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t watched up to Episode Seven then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
Devs Plot Recap
Devs centres around a tech company called Amaya. The company is named after the daughter of the CEO who tragically died years prior and the machine in devs is as much about bringing him closure as it is of bringing him agony over what could have been.
We’ll get into this more later but the CEO, Forest and his company have made leaps and bounds in terms of software and programming. This has caught the attention of several agencies and governments, namely Russia who sent in a spy named Sergei to run reconnaissance on the mysterious Devs department that exists within the company.
Sergei is brought in and sees first hand what goes on there and he tries to smuggle out the info but is captured and killed. Amaya covers up his death and Sergei’s girlfriend Lily tries to uncover exactly what is going on which leads her to the machine.
That’s a basic plot overview but there’s a lot more going on as well as an absolutely incredible soundtrack.
What Is The Machine?
In order to understand the MacGuffin that is the machine we have to understand how the universe itself works.
At the dawn of time, there was the big bang which sent atoms across the cosmos. Eventually, they formed planets and created life as well know it. Humans came into existence and then they lived their lives, had children, who went on to have children and civilisation was created.
Everything from the big bang all up until this very moment has followed a pathway, a chain of events that have lead us to the here and now.
Even you, yes you, sitting there reading this at this very moment, you are here because everything in your life that has happened so far has lead you to this moment. In fact, scratch that, everything in not only your life, but your parents life, your great grandparents, their parents and everyone in your family tree dating back to the second that your ancestors stepped out of the ocean has led you here.
Now what the machine at devs has done is that it has taken every single thing on the planet and traced it back in time, accurately recreating events from human history. It has then mapped them into a complex algorithm and then using this data it has then mapped out what will happen in the future.
They do a brilliant job of explaining it in the show with the use of a pen.
When you roll a pen on a table it almost seems random whereabouts it will land.
However, if you were to take the speed that the pen was rolled, the direction it was sent into, the weight of it and all of the variables that make it this specific pen, you would not only be able to see how far forward it would roll but you would also be able to trace it back to it’s point of origin.
Therefore if you had this information you could predict both it’s past movements and future.
Devs basically says that there are no random events.
Cause And Effect
Everything on earth is the way that it is because of cause and effect.
Even a coin flip can be predicted if you know the weight of the coin, the speed in which it was flipped, the surface it would land on and more.
Basically that is what the machine does, it takes all of the information for everything on the planet and then it uses this to portray exactly how things have been and how they will be.
At one point when Sergei looks over the code, he states that if it’s true then it changes everything, however, this is quickly rebuffed by Katie who says “no, if it’s true then it changes absolutely nothing.”
This sentence is the key to understanding Devs, everything is on a pre-ordained path because of what has happened in the past and there is no way to really divert from it as the past is what brought it to this point.
Forest calls it Causal Determinism which states that as everything is based upon natural laws that are determined by definitive causes that nothing is uncased and therefore everything has an effect.
If all causes are known then we can follow the after-effects back to where they were caused and then use this information to plot out a trajectory of where things would continue to go.
The Domino Effect
Everything from your past until now has happened because of the domino effect in which certain aspects all correctly fell into place for you to be where you are. Now we could take your medical history, your job, where you live, how much you drink, who you socialise with and everything about you and probably get a fairly accurate prediction of how and when you will die.
It’s like those old guess your death apps but far more sophisticated and though things like that can be worrying for some people, I think for the Devs it is very much a safety blanket that reminds them that everything will happen the way that it’s supposed to.
The Multiverse and Variables
When we first see the machine displaying events from the past they are extremely hazy and difficult to make out.
This is because the machine has to take into account a number of different variables that it cannot know for certain.
For example, say when tracing back your grandparents it got the hair colour of one wrong i.e. it thought your grandfather was ginger, it would then think that there would have to be other red-headed people in your family to cause your grandfather to be ginger so there would be mistakes which would grow exponentially the further you went back.
Instead of getting these completely wrong, the machine accounts for these and therefore it does not create a crystal clear image.
So we cannot look back to the past exactly as it is unlikely that it got absolutely everything right so instead it leaves the variables in.
Now in the show, Lyndon actually clears all these variables and it creates a perfect image as well as clear audio.
This is used with an example of Jesus on the cross and though everyone in the department is flabbergasted, Forest is angered by it.
In clearly the variables one is presenting a version of the universe in which your grandfather was ginger and they traced it back as if it was a fact and therefore everything happened the way it is displayed.
This may have been the case but it may also not have been the case and therefore it is not a true depiction of the future, rather a possible future.
“We Don’t Subscribe To The Multiverse”
That is the multiverse which Forest does not really believe in because if he did then he may have to accept that his daughter exists out there and he is still not with her.
I don’t know if that’s an accurate character study of Forest but he does begin to torture himself with the notion of what if.
Lyndon argues with him and is expelled because of it however Lyndon believes that the theory still holds up and it goes against Forest’s beliefs.
Lydon even put his life on the line in episode 7 to prove the multiverse exists in away and though he dies in this one, we do see several other versions exist alongside him.
This gives the idea of Quantum immortality which similar experiment to Schroedinger’s cat. It states that if you put your life on the line in an experiment like the one we see Lyndon attempt there will be two outcomes, either you will live or die.
If you live the experiment can be repeated again and again with it causing multiple Universe to branch off from that very moment in which you died.
Since consciouness ceases upon death you won’t remember the universes that you die in and instead, you will follow through the universes in which you live, making you immortal during the experiment.
You do get this notion with the death of the character and it could also hint at how the show will go forward for the finale. We do know that Lily’s death has been predicted however, it could be possible that she will exist within a reality in which she does not die.
I don’t think the show will do that, more I think the machine will end with her destroying it and this will be why it is unable to predict past a certain point.
There is a tonne of avenues that Devs can take and overall it’s a fascinating series that I’ve really enjoyed talking about in this video.
In answer to the question of what it is that the devs do? The answer is nothing, they just let things happen the way that they should and in doing this Lily is a direct front to them. Here is someone who like Lyndon wants to prove that free will is possible and this breaks everything that the Devs stand for, thus showing that humanity is not on the train tracks that the machine states we are.
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on Devs so comment below and let me know.