What Separates Us From Machines?

Westworld is an interesting series that focuses on two different beings, “Hosts” which appear to be automatons, and “Guests”, which are humans.  It was a little confusing why they were called that but some dialogue mentions a “park” indicating this is a theme park where the automatons are design to serve or cater to the humans that attend it.  In this western themed park, it seems to be another world where humans are free to do anything they choose, no matter how questionable their actions may be.

In the beginning of the episode, a host named Dolores hints her world is the kind of place where it allows a lot of freedom by saying, “The newcomers are just looking for the same thing we are.  A place to be free to stake out our dreams, a place with unlimited possibilities.” (00:04:05). This is eventually seen to be true as some of these “newcomers” get away with things like killing other people and laughing over it as though it’s nothing (00:53:24).  The same freedom doesn’t apply to the hosts however, as they’re supposed to “stay within their loops” (00:40:05). They aren’t allowed to experience a different way of life unless a guest chooses it for them (00:39:42) and they aren’t able to kill the guests either (00:12:23) leaving them no choice but to experience whatever someone else wants from them.

Technology is just seen as a tool to serve humans which makes it even more likely the guests will treat them improperly.  When the Sheriff malfunctions, the guests say “something is wrong with it.” indicating that some don’t even view the Sheriff as anything but a machine (00:27:04) and some old guy even refers to them as “livestock” (00:45:02).  They return to town and proceed to shoot up the wanted man’s gang and say things like “Look at that! I just shot him through the neck! And his pal here, too. Yo, go get that photographer. I want to get a picture of this.” (00:54:40).  These signs show that humanity doesn’t care for the hosts no matter how lifelike they look or act. It’s honestly disturbing that people would be willing to kill automatons that mimic our behaviors and then laugh over it like it’s nothing.  The hosts can hardly be told apart from the guests so these actions technically are no different from killing a stranger.

With the hosts being treated unfairly, it seems like this theme park isn’t going to last very long.  Some of the park managers foreshadows this by saying “You don’t have kids at home, do you Bernard? If you did, you’d know that they all rebel eventually.” (00:18:45).  This is nearly proven later when Mr. Abernathy threatens the inventor of hosts by saying “I shall have such revenges on you both.” (1:02:03) indicating that it’s possible for the hosts to break free of their programming.  Generally, the hosts are not designed to react to anomaly’s or unusual things like when the upper level of the bar collapses and the people inside don’t even glance at it (00:50:30). However, Dolores appears to be showing this behavior too, as one of the researchers lines claim they “literally couldn’t hurt a fly.” (00:27:31) only for Dolores to slap one on her neck at the end, revealing her growing awareness of the world (1:06:54).

From this episode, we can see that Westworld is a place where humans can do whatever they want.  We see guests that kill automatons that look like humans, laugh about it, and snap pictures of it.  But if we keep in mind what defines humanity and machines, this world is pretty messed up. Humans are typically regarded as beings known for their empathy and compassion, yet there’s barely any to be seen here.  Machines are commonly seen as cold and calculating, but in Westworld, they’re built to be lifelike and live out the same everyday lives that can be altered in disastrous ways depending on how the guests want them to.  Pertaining to the series, the line that separates us is so blurred, the hosts might as well be considered more human than us.

One thought on “What Separates Us From Machines?

  1. Justin Bernard

    For Peoples Choice I choose Tyler Yuen. I concur with you Tyler because you made big point about humans and machines.”Humans are typically regarded as beings known for their empathy and compassion, yet there’s barely any to be seen here.  Machines are commonly seen as cold and calculating, but in Westworld, they’re built to be lifelike and live out the same everyday lives that can be altered in disastrous ways depending on how the guests want them to.  Pertaining to the series, the line that separates us is so blurred, the hosts might as well be considered more human than us.” This is to say that the roles of humans and machines are switched. Humans think Machines are heartless while humans are supposed to be compassionate, but this isn’t the case in this series as the roles are switched . Your analysis opens my eyes to question the true nature about what is human and what is machine.

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