A Reality without Individuality

Westworld is a science fiction western television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. It is based off the 1973 film by the same name directed by Michael Crichton. In the first episode titled “The Original,” humans or “hosts” have basically become a form of AI and are being controlled by researchers to please customers. The researchers please their customers or “guests” by placing them in a false reality with the hosts. in order for the guests to become immersed, the hosts are programmed to perform very life-like. This false reality is set in a realistic western setting where everything is planned. After each day passes in this world, the hosts’ memories are reset and thoroughly analyzed by the researchers. Throughout the episode, the status of individuality and rebellion is shown to be important.

The lack of Individuality is practically the main premise of the story. Each host is controlled and surveyed by researchers (15:27). They are all programmed with a unique personality, story and script to follow. If there is even a slight change in the way a host acts, then the researchers are tasked with reprogramming and resetting them, effectively removing any personal choice. For example, Dolores is “repaired” after she learns information that should not have been available to her. However it appears fixing a host can be detrimental to the fictional world. According to one of the researchers after learning the coders will reprogram a large number of hosts due to a potential unintentional personality change, “we sell complete immersion in a hundred interconnected narratives… You pull one character, the overall story adjusts. You pull two hundred at once, and it’s a fucking disaster” (28:40).

On the other hand, if a host becomes very different compared to their programming, then they are replaced and sent to what appears to be a storage of defective hosts. In this area, dozens or even hundreds of hosts stand still and lifeless (01:06:17). Dolores’ father is turned defective after he becomes crazed upon learning new information; he goes as far as to threaten his creator for his “sins” (01:01:50). This sentience is an interesting and very important part of the story, but the father has not truly become alive. He has actually accessed a prior build of his programming and used it for an unknown reason. Regardless, in order for the researcher’s story to continue, the father was replaced.

This rebellious attitude may play an important part in the future because it is very likely to spread to other hosts. As I had mentioned previously, it has even affected Dolores, albeit in a more minor way. Interestingly enough, this personality change by the father was foreshadowed by one of the researchers, “You don’t have kids at home do you, Bernard? If you did you’d know that they all rebel eventually” (18:45). I believe the old man in the dark clothing may show signs of this attitude change in future episodes because he appears to be omnipotent and invincible to anything that occurs in the story. Overall, I am interested in seeing what happens in the next couple of episodes.

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