HBO’s Westworld

IMDB’s description.

Set at the intersection of the near future and the [re-imagined] past, explore a world in which every human appetite can be indulged without consequence.

Westworld, a series on HBO, is set in a future where robots are made, not to serve humanity, but to serve our amusements and sadistic impulses. A western themed park allows you to live life as a cowboy, visit saloons, and kill with wanton abandon. But only as long as you kill the robots which are mostly indistinguishable from humans. This answers the age-old question of “would it be immoral to abuse your unfeeling robot slave?” The answer is yes. 

In this park, human robots, horses, and all manner of animals are 3D printed in a bath of milk and then daily sent out into the park to allow the tourists to torture, rape, kill, and fall in love with them. Is this the best use of the groundbreaking robot technology? Later in the series, as we see more glimpses of the outside, the only robots out there are construction bots, crude humanoid attempts with little intelligence. Apparently no one can see the value in these amazing robots in the park doing more than acting out a play set in the old west. 

Perhaps the most astounding technology is the ability of guns (or perhaps the bullets) to know what they are hitting. If they are hitting robots, or buildings, or anything not a human, they act like real bullets, but if they hit a human, they disperse in a puff of smoke. There are times you see people shooting through tables, but when they shoot a person, it just dissipates. This technology is never explained or even commented on.  At one point, Ed Harris uses a stick of dynamite to blow up a door. You see behind the scenes that even the actions of humans are carefully controlled, and the watchers approve the pyrotechnics of it. Does this mean they could have remotely stopped the fuse from burning or the TNT from exploding had they wanted to? 

One thing that is at least commented on, is why the robots must always sit completely naked when being reviewed by the technicians. The creator of the technology eventually chastises an employee who covers one up. He doesn’t want people thinking they are real. They aren’t real humans, so don’t treat them like they are. This, he says, is one of the dangers. If you treat them like they are human, you will start to believe they are more than what they are. That being said, the show creators waste no opportunity to make sure you see as many naked robots (played by real humans) as you could possibly bear, and then they double down on it.

This world they are building (pun intended?) grows with each season. By the time you reach the end of season 3, you are well and far beyond the original premise. You see the rise and fall of character arcs. Some get happy endings, and others… less so. 

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