Ad Lucem


The year is 2032, and the revolutionary tech company AD LUCEM O.I. has over 10 million subscribers. Their Corporeal Augmented Reality Assistant, or CARA for short, is a massive success. CARA isn’t just another listening device. It’s a virtual assistant, helmed by a live operator, who responds to the wants and needs of their clients in real time – the way only a human can. With an update to this game-changing technology on the horizon, the company’s CEO is poised to capture the fame and fortune she’s always dreamed of. But it is quickly revealed that her determination to “maintain the thread of human connection” might have unintended consequences…  AD LUCEM is a nine-episode, socio-political thriller about the ethical dilemmas that surface when the pursuit of human connection blurs the lines between technology and reality. All nine episodes will be available for free, but QCODE+ subscribers get early, uninterrupted access to new episodes. Learn more at  Produced by QCODE, Barry Linen Motion Pictures, and SALT with Executive Producers Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Ian Gotler, Troian Bellisario, and Joshua Close. Written and directed by Troian Bellisario and Joshua Close. Starring Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, and Troian Bellisario with Fiona Shaw, Clancy Brown, and Joshua Close. read less

Our Editor's Take

The scripted fictional podcast Ad Lucem is a cautionary tale. It warns listeners about what the future might bring as technology continues to develop. The plot is set in New York, less than a decade away. It revolves around the invention of a new virtual assistant. Unlike modern smart speakers like Alexa, it operates as a human would. It gives organic, spontaneous responses and can hold an entire conversation. The reason for that is the human behind the speaker. This person is always listening to his owner's every desire.

The podcast's producer, actor Chris Pine, says he is a Luddite. He feels that social media is too stimulating and overwhelming. In his personal life, he prefers to stay analog wherever possible. That is, in part, why he wanted to tell this story. It acts as a warning on a variety of topics. They include anything from the lack of online privacy to the loneliness epidemic.

Ad Lucem started as a pitch for a movie or a TV show. When that didn't work out, it was adapted into a podcast. The inspiration for the narrative and direction comes from film. Writer and director Troian Bellisario is a lead in the TV series Pretty Little Liars. She has said her influences for the podcast include the films Her and Eyes Wide Shut. The story's virtual assistant CARA doesn't rely on AI. It's a person-to-person interaction mediated by a screen. With this concept, Bellisario wants listeners to challenge their thoughts about modern technology. She wishes for them to consider how much it's hindering their lives as much as it's contributing.

The production of Ad Lucem helps listeners absorb its messages. The sound design is atmospheric, creating an immersive experience. The actors also provide masterful performances. They convey the urgency of the situations alongside the quiet, reflective moments. It's an audio thriller that keeps the tension in every scene and blurs the lines between what tech is and what it could be. All nine episodes of this short-form series are compelling.

read less