If you step onto a New York City street, you may as well be smiling — there’s no doubt you’re being filmed. It’s the reality of a post-9/11, surveillance-heavy world — and it’s a major inspiration behind the new J.J. Abrams crime thriller on CBS, “Person of Interest.”

“Someone tried to count [the number of cameras in NYC] a couple years ago, and the official tally was ‘uncountable,’” says executive producer Jonathan Nolan, whose credits include the “Dark Knight” films (director Christopher is his brother). “I think we’re all really aware these days of just how much information is kind of swirling around out there about us, about our friends, about everybody,” he adds. “What’s missing in all of this — or at least we think is missing — is something that sifts through all of that information, a way in which that information actually becomes useful to people.”

Enter The Machine. The invention of a mysterious billionaire, Finch (Michael Emerson), the government-commissioned, anti-terrorism device is capable of predicting when a crime will occur. With the aid of a former CIA agent, Reese (Jim Caviezel), Finch plans to enact vigilante justice, which plays out on the show in a case-of-the-week format.

“We’re at this very odd moment, kind of standing on the precipice of seeing what happens when you start harnessing all that information,” Nolan says. Scarily, he’s referring to real-life as much as the world created on “Person of Interest.” “This is not really a science-fiction show,” he says. “It’s more science-fact.”

 
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