Reading Response #5: Westworld

I had heard about Westworld before and never decided to look at it, now I can say I regret that decision.

Westworld is a weird mix of Sci-fi and Western in a way that makes it feel like the two worlds were meant to go hand in hand with each other. Where people with fat wallets can indulge in a Western fantasy story unlike any other. One where the people and the experiences are all predetermined and scripted much like that of a video game.

One of the things that I found disturbing about Westworld was the realness of it all. The fact that the Hosts as they were called were so real and life like that they could be passed off as Human as long as you interact with them the way they’re meant to interact.

The concept of Androids being too Human to distinguish has always been explored in the media in which they’re engaged. Westworld took it’s own turn with this and made it so that the Hosts we see are all Human like yet identified by the source codes they’re set to follow.

It’s harrowing to see their reactions and their personalities show through but it’s even more worrying to know that it’s all a fabrication by their creators. The Hosts feel like Human beings until they react in a way that no Human can, and still they seem more like people than the actual people in Westworld.

The Programmers and the people overseeing the project feel more robotic and detached than the Hosts themselves. Whenever they’re on screen there’s always talk about some sort of issue with the Hosts being too life-like but some believe that it’s normal for them to feel and to remember and dwell on prior experiences.

Westworld, to Me, is a story where there are no real Humans. There are people and there are Hosts. Neither of which could be considered Human because of how they behave. As said by Dolores’ Father Mr. Abernathy at 46: 21 “Hell is empty and all the Devils are here.” In this weird balance of People and Hosts, the Hosts are the ones that feel more like people. They change and grow and shift in personalities, and the biggest example of this is Dolores.

She starts out in the beginning as someone who would never harm a living creature, a picture of what the ideal Host would look and act like. She doesn’t deviate from her scripts, she doesn’t react in ways that seem off, and she lives the life set and scripted for her. Even when Mr. Abernathy begins to deviate after seeing the strange photograph, she replies with the repeated lines “Doesn’t look like anything to me.” and “I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what you mean.” However, at the end of it all when things have begun to change and the project is becoming more unstable, Dolores does something entirely unscripted.

She swats at a fly and kills it. A Human action that directly contradicts her character of someone who’d never harm a living creature.

Westworld is a world where the Humans are machines and the Machines are made Human, and I really enjoyed that twist it presented with the shift of Dolores’ character and the eeriness of her deviating from her preset algorithm.

People’s Choice Posts #5: ‘Westworld’

It’s that time again! Read through your classmates’ reading response blogs on the first episode of the HBO series, Westworld, and choose your favorite post. You can choose a post for any reason, but you always must clearly articulate your rationale for choosing it (e.g., why did you find it interesting, compelling, likeable, provocative, etc.?). This rationale can refer to content, style, creativity, etc. If, after reading everyone’s posts, you strongly feel that your post is your “favorite,” you can always vote for yourself, but you need to provide a rationale for doing so.

In order to register your vote for this week’s “People’s Choice,” “leave a reply” to this post, and in your comment, provide your chosen post, an excerpt from it + rationale for choosing it. Provide the title and author of the chosen post, along with a link to the post you are citing (please provide the link in the same comment: don’t make a separate one with just the link). Citing is really important (in this case, citing your classmate!), and this is a way of giving credit to other sources and putting yourself in dialogue with them.

Comments/votes are mandatory, should be made no later than Th 10/8 by 9am. The person with the most votes will earn the coveted “People’s Choice” honor for this round of posts! I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose, and why.

Class Discussion #5: What does it mean to be “human”?

As part of our reading of Westworld, we are considering how humanity is redefined in the world of this text. We are exploring what it means to be human, in a world where people have their non-biological, “fake,” non-living counterparts (“hosts”).

What does authenticity means in a world where everything, including emotions, memories, reveries, beings, etc. can be simulated, created by people? What defines a “human” or “humanity” in the world of Westworld? What distinguishes the real/genuine/authentic from the fake/simulated/ersatz? What is missing/lost/sacrificed (if anything) in these replicas? Is anything gained?

  • Who/what serves who/what? Who are the masters and who are the slave? Who are the superiors and the inferiors?
  • What are the relationships (colleagues, friendship, sexual, love, etc.) between different types of beings?
  • What is a real “emotion” if it can be simulated or real memories if they can be implanted?
  • What about the setting, the utopian park of the old Wild West, where the rich come to live out their fantasies at the expense of others?
  • What kinds of competing sets of values are at play?
  • What are central conflicts of the first episode?

I am also particularly interested in us tracing how, through their interaction with the “hosts,” people (the “newcomers” or the people who work on creating the hosts or Westworld itself) move from merely embodying values/norms of their society that they have have already internalized, to developing individual, (perhaps rebellious?), free-thinking understanding about the world and their places in it, and the hierarchy of beings (living and otherwise).

Think about these questions in relation to other texts we are read or ideas discussed this semester, as well as real-life advances in technology (such as those presented in this article, “Japanese professor creates uncanny, human-like robots and the exhibit website, Android: What is Human?).

[Logistics]

Make one comment (just hit “reply,” either to my original post or to another comment on it) by Tu 10/6. Then go back/read through all comments and extend the conversation by making at least two more comments (of course, more are always welcome!) in response by W 10/7.

Your comment (reply) can be just a few sentences: provide the quote/citation and a quick explanation of how/why it functions in the context of some larger issue/question (or you can raise questions, complicate issues, extend discussions, analyze a character, or setting, etc. &/or discuss central conflicts/values/themes through the use of your evidence/analysis). Feel free to post multiple comments, and also to respond to others. If you’ve already discussed some of these instances in your previous blogs or in class, you should feel free to draw on that material.The goal is to have some good virtual discussions here to help you think critically about important themes/questions raised by this complex novel, and to find/analyze/synthesize various pieces of evidence in support of claim.

The goal in all cases is to provide specific examples from the text (scenes/quotes/citation from the episode) with discussion/analysis and some connection to a larger claim/argument. You must cite currently in MLA format (in-text citation).

Phillips Reading Response Number 5: Westworld

West world was quite intriguing because it is a modern tv show that has more options in terms of what can be shown and the production technology to make it seem very realistic. This tv show takes place in a modern world where they have created an amusement park for rich customers to come and experience the wild west. To make it super cool, they have created these androids or artifical beings that are a apart of the amusement park. They are not supposed to be aware that they are androids and they also do not know anything about the outside world.

It was very intersting to see the opening credits sequence of the 3d printing of the new world they created. The cost of visitng for guests is $40,000 a day, so it is not a cheap experience, so it appears to be geared towards the rich based on the financal aspect of the experience. They refer to the androids as hosts and it is very interesting to see how they react and interact with the guests. Dolores is the main hero host and her lover Teddy is also a host, but the show makes it very hard to distinguish who is a host and guest in the first episode.

The train was stocked with guests and hosts. One human said that the first time he visited Westworld he was with his family and had some simple fun, but for his second trip he went “straight evil,” and it was the best two weeks of his life. This tells us a lot about the guests and the park in a couple economical lines. The guests can decide how they want to go about using the wild west location because they are paying a large amount, so they are given a lot of power in terms of what they can do.

So at first it is hard to tell that teddy is a host, but when Dolores recognzies him, that is a clear indication that he was written into her permeanent story. This show seems like it is going to dive into the conceps of AI and the concepts of becoming aware of differenet realities. The man in black is super interesting because he has been a guest at westoworld since it opened, so it seems like he prefers guns and brothels over beaches and margartias.

I also found it very intersting that the man in black seems to have this god complex. He seems to enjoy the power he and his abiity to reapeat similar events without ever being hurt. It truly is a very intersting sow becuase so many aspects of it realte to the funadementals of science fiction and with modern production technology, it is easier to replicate and visualize these super AI concepts and characters.

The show has a lot of potential and even just from the first episode, one can see that there is going to be issues with the hosts and most lilely a human element will also influence events.

Khoury Reading Response #5 Westworld Ep 1

HBO’s Westworld created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, based off the 1973 film of the same name by Michael Crichton takes place in Western themed amusement park (A technological advanced one), that is run by hosts (androids) that must cater to the needs of the high paying individuals who come to the park. Whatever those needs may be. The first episode of season 1 titled “Original”, finds us in the West with a woman named Delores, who is living with her father Peter. She is traveling to a town called Sweetwater for some things that she needs and ends up meeting an ex lover, Teddy. He joins her on her way back to her farm, in which they discover that Two bandits have attacked her father stating they also killed and raped his wife. Teddy kills both bandits, but can not kill a third man, The Man in Black. This is because all host are programmed to not be able to kill humans (guest) and also can not feel things like flies on skin. The MIB kills Teddy and (technically) kidnaps Delores but it seems that he knows who she is.

What happens next is that an update is given to the host in the park by the creator Dr. Robert Ford, however it causes the host to act up. At first it was ignored, but then an incident causes all host that have ben updated to be taken for a check up.

Peter finds a guest photo the next morning, which is a picture of the regular world and confuses him. This is because the androids technically don’t know about life, since it is not their programming. Peter warns Delores in a cryptic message, which is discovered after the head of security asks Delores some questions. All host but Peter, and the Sheriff Walter who was the first to malfunction are cleared. However, the host are asked questions multiple times, one of which is can Delores harm a human being, to which she answers no.

The next day, Peter is replaced (Delores does not realize this) and a scene of Delores killing a fly on her neck is shown.

This last scene is the most important part of the episode for me. We see how regular people treat the park simply because those in it are simply androids that technically are not real people, but by having the Man in Black know who Delores is, represent that maybe there is something deeper. Also, an entire amusement park with androids who have some type of human capabilities is very high tech. But to show what may or may not be an android actually ‘feel’ despite this being something that should not happen.  This is even hidden by the fact that when asked by the head of security can she harm a human, she says no. These contradicting actions already paint a picture for what may happen in the show. Maybe the androids will develop actual personalities and become self aware, or maybe people can be programmed with technology.

Itmam Chowdhury’s Reading Response #5: Westworld

Westworld is a themed park where androids are represented as hosts to the guests as they operate real life daily activities as actual humans do. The first fifteen minutes of the episode is mainly about Delores and Teddy. In the end of the fifteen minutes, we see a visitor killing Teddy and kidnapping Delores. After this scene, we see Delores wake up the next morning with no memory of last night and the events of the previous day being repeated. 

What I found interesting is the interaction between the humans and androids. The humans knows that the hosts aren’t real people but the hosts themselves doesn’t know that. One scene I found interesting is when a boy talks to Delores and says “You’re one of them, aren’t you? You’re not real” (32:05). I feel like the visitors knowing that the hosts are androids brings  thoughts and questions such as are the visitors scared of the hosts in some ways as they aren’t humans . Another scene that I found interesting is the sheriff breaking down when a bug is on him. I’m wondering if this breakdown of an android can happen frequently and how that can affect the entire plot as a whole.

Delores’s character is pretty intriguing as she is considered the oldest host. We see multiple times in the episode of Delores focusing on the beauty of the world and not the ugliness. To me, this whole world of robots being controlled and being hosts to the guests is pretty ugly and I’m wondering when if ever Delores will figure that out. I feel like even though this whole world Delores is living in is pretty ugly, her mindset and perspective is to cherish the things that makes her happy even if there isn’t a lot of it.

One of the opening lines is ” Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”(3:17). This question is interesting as the hosts doesn’t know that they are androids but thinks they are human beings. In the end of the episode we see Teddy once again in the train for the third time, but this time I noticed how he touches the same area on his body where he was shot from the second time. I feel like there might be a chance Teddy is starting to remember what happened to him before he lost his memory. I feel like this scene with Teddy at the end answers the opening line I stated in the beginning as he might actually be in the process of questioning the nature of his reality.

The androids function as regular human beings throughout the episode and there are moments where I forget that they are actually robots. It’s interesting how even though the androids have actual feelings like regular humans and other very similar traits. Some of them did act weird when a bug was on there face and didn’t react at all but other than that they do seem like they’re actual people. This is the first time I ever watched Westworld and I’m interested to see what happens next with this world Delores and all the other androids are living in.

 

Oscar Abundez Reading Response #5: WestWorld

The HBO Show “WestWorld,” is a show with a very sinister ending. The main focus of the show is a world that is created of Robotic people who believe they are regular people, and yet seem to repeat the same day for the as long as the creators decide. I the case of the show the people are unaware that they repeat the same thing for all of eternity, however the show then pulls out of the fake world to show the real one that overlays upon it. In the real world the people see the robots play out their lives, however there seem to be guests called “New comers” that have entered the world and caused havoc.

In the beginning there is an apparent contrast with how technology used to be in the past and the technology the future is capable of creating, such as “reanimated” horses and people (16:00). With this contrast the show expands on how the technology from the past was not to the standards on the future, with the show making the two connect with the future controlling the “Past” the contrast of power is also enabled. The future seems to be capable of controlling more than the people in thee past, as well as showing how primitive technology seemed (14:50).

In the first appearance of the “New Comers” the issue of an exciting world changes direction, to who are they and why can’t they seem to die (12:40). As well as what impacts do they have upon the androids, will their knowledge be corrupted or altered due to the fact? These new questions and issues arise with this introduction, and yet they are lightly answered with the “father” of Deloris. The android seems to become defiant, and wanting revenge on his creators, which in turn seems to be caused because the system has created an error where the android can access the previous memories (1:02:00).

The different layering of placed interest within the show makes the first episode grasp the curiosity of the people and makes them wonder if its something that can actually happen later in the show, the questions consist of the current details and the outcomes that happen. The problem of the show or issue of the story doesn’t only consist with a single character but rather a general outcome that could happen to the androids as a whole, the story builds on this when they show how many robots have been placed into storage (1:06:05). The ending in which we can see that the android is in fact crying is quit a questionable scene, because this begs the question of how intelligent does the android have to be to become something similar to human.

Max’s Reading Response #5: Westworld

I read (most of) a really, really weird book maybe ten years ago. I have no idea how I ended up coming across it, and why, upon reading the title, I didn’t roll my eyes and find something else. It’s called “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” and it’s by a now-dead Yale research psychologist named Julian Jaynes.

The book, which was published in 1976, has a bizarre, albeit interesting, premise: during human evolution, the brain was separated into two distinct sections — one that “spoke” and one that “listened.” Jaynes suggested that up until only 3000 years ago, consciousness as we know it existed as a kind of internal narration from one side of the brain to the other. Rather than try to paraphrase what this would have been like, I’ll just cite this section from Wikipedia ¹ :

“According to Jaynes, ancient people in the bicameral state of mind would have experienced the world in a manner that has some similarities to that of a person with schizophrenia. Rather than making conscious evaluations in novel or unexpected situations, the person would hallucinate a voice or “god” giving admonitory advice or commands and obey without question: One would not be at all conscious of one’s own thought processes per se. Jaynes’s hypothesis is offered as a possible explanation of “command hallucinations” that often direct the behavior of those afflicted by first rank symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as other voice hearers.”

While the implications of this theory are astonishing, it’s essentially bullshit.

Modern neuroscience and psychology have debunked most of what Jaynes posited in the book. Despite the fascinating premise and the reams of evidence presented to justify the theory, the simple fact is the mind just doesn’t work that way. It never has.

Not the human mind.

The artificial minds of the hosts in Westworld are slaves to the internal narration of a bicameral mind. Their stories are set, their roles are explicit, and their capability for improvisation is wholly bound to that narration. They experience reality as a hallucination offering an ersatz representation of the real world, but only insofar as the narrative permits. When faced with a situation beyond the scope of the narrative, their response is to either ignore it, claim that it did not happen, or, in the case of Peter Abernathy around 45:35, decay into a state of epistemic shock.

Disruptions to the internal narration are seen as being fraught with uncertainty and an underlying sense of danger. When Theresa, the head of quality assurance at the park, confronts Lee, the writer of the hosts’ storylines, it is clear she is aware of the disruptive effect of a host straying too far from the internal narration: “The hosts are to stay with their scripts with minor improvisation. This isn’t minor. This is a fucking shitstorm.” (40:41)

The character of Delores Abernathy is experiencing a sense of unease — a sense of wrongness — in the world around her. From waking up, nude, passive, and terrified in the very beginning, to walking by the host that has replaced her father and killing a fly at the end (something a host would never do), the worldview shaped by her internal narration appears to be malfunctioning. The information provided by her senses is breaking down the bicameral nature of her mind. Consciousness, perhaps, is emerging.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicameralism_(psychology)