Infants on Westworld

Panel Discussion

Posted December 8th, 2016

Lindsay Hansen Park and Andrew Ainsworth join Glenn, Matt, Scott and John to geek out all over the HBO series Westworld.  SPOILERS included free of charge.  And plenty of existential “what is reality?” discussions for those not following the show.  These Infantile delights have Infantile ends.

Glenn

John

Matt

Scott

  • Thomas Moore

    At around 1:01, Scott speculated that he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to go to a park that all the entertainment is sex and killing of robots. It’s RPG true, but he needs to understand that most of the games now days are “Grand Theft Auto” and sniper/soldier games. Also with the new 3D viewers it’s getting closer and closer to being a reality. Remember in “Total Recall” the biggest sellers were recalling vacations or occupations like spys, sex, etc….

    So really he needs to not look at Future or Sci-Fi speculations on what thrills humans. What we need to check is this de-evolution or not when we play to our base desires?

    • Scott

      I totally get the rpg aspect. Love those games. Killing is all fine and good in a video game, but ask yourself if you’d really want to do that in real life, even if there is no consequence. I think I would not want to do that or a lot of other things they focus on in westworld.

  • Chpruc

    The impression I got from the cold storage area full of standing androids/gynoids was that they were a “Terracotta Army.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s why scenes were shot that way as a foreshadowing of their becoming Maeve’s Army.

  • Jessthehoneybadger

    Infants, Andrew & Lindsay! Hello! Loved the review on this! I Love that a mormon fan geek facebook groups exists. I will seek these groups out and add myself- I guess.

    I am disappointed that you didn’t even mention the feminist theme that is at play with Dolores and Maeve! Which is that the most notable robots who are like reaching or have reached consciousness are women. There is this deep level where they know something is wrong and they’re trying to change it, but the system/ loop/ program is keeping them down. Especially since this story takes place in the western theme which is always sexist. (I mean- John Wayne in one movie openly spanks his wife for disobeying him.)

    Also only one human woman is seen in the park experiencing the true cowboy trope riding around going on adventures.

    • Jessthehoneybadger

      Not to mention the scene where Dolores says, “You said people come here to change the story of their lives. I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.” Then she literally gets a pair of pants and boots and rides with the boys.

      • Lindsay P

        Jessthehoneybadger- it would be a great idea to do a feminist critique. The show doesn’t quite pass the bechdel test, but it handles race is a much more progressive way than most other shows. There are several scenes when only POC are onscreen, not fulfilling any sort of trope roles. I’d love to break it down with that lens.

        • Jessthehoneybadger

          It is a huge disappointment that this show doesn’t really pass the Bechdel test despite my enthusiasm to see a deeper feminist meaning. I do love seeing the diversity. I think Charlotte’s character specifically (POC, woman, authority figure) is fantastic. I was slightly annoyed that her first real introduction was a BDSM scene. It was as if they were trying too hard (in more ways than one) to establish her being the “boss.”

  • Brenda

    Okay, this was one of my favorite podcasts of IOT ever!! Great discussion, great show, great background music (omg, thank you westworld). I mean, it does really suck about the technical difficulties (echoes)… you should do this again sometime without the echoes 😀

  • Brenda

    p.s. I definitely think Ford is dead. And, I would be kind of annoyed if they brought him back… like sike! I use this robot trick on everyone!

    p.s.s. Lindsay is right about the mole… and I really dont think the old black suit dude looks anything like the young william. Weird casting decisions.

  • AnotherClosetAtheist

    I tuned in. I had never heard of WW. I listened anyway. It intrigued me. I blasted through in 2 days. AMAZING. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I even went and watched the ’70s movie. Shit sandwich. Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs.

  • Holly

    Maeve and friends had to die by fire at the end so that she would have to be totally rebuilt. And that’s when they were build her again without the programming on her C6 vertebrae that would stop her from leaving the park entirely.

    Also, I think Maeve reaches consciousness when she decides to go back to the park to find her daughter instead of taking the train out.

    Do you think Maeve’s storyline was set up by Bernard as Arthur under the direction of Ford to create a distraction on the night of his death? Perhaps she and Delores both reach full consciousness on that night–when Maeve goes back to the park and when Delores kills Ford and the other humans at the Gala.

    Thoughts?

    Also, I see the battle between Ford and the board members as a shout out to the suits at studios vs the creative teams trying to keep films fresh and less about simple spectacle that’s accessible to an international audience.

    • You touched on my biggest beef with the show. At certain points, it needed consciousness to be stored completely in the cloud as part of the larger system. At other points, it needed consciousness to be at least partially stored independently in each physical AI.

      The problem is that it’s based on a story from the 1970’s… And in 2016, half of what’s shown here as the future is already happening in terms of the fundamentals of AI and cloud computing. So are these bots individualized AIs unplugged from the system? Or do they need the core system to operate? Since they can be blown up at any time in any way, where is their consciousness stored? Which parts of their experience/memory are processed locally vs. in the cloud? The whole show is about consciousness and independent thought, so when does that happen? When can it happen in relation to your connectivity to the master system handling some of your processing / memory storage?

      At what point did any of them unplug? How would that work? Are they still dependent on connectivity to the system so that they exist independent of their bodies? Or does their newfound consciousness mean they’ve broken free and, from that point forward, are no longer connected but then truly die when they die (because all their memories are local and they’re unplugged)? And the whole park couldn’t work at the level of synchronization and sophistication required if it also allowed for everyone and their dog (literally more than half the characters) to be functioning in the symphony with their own secrets that are super disruptive to the core overall but hidden from one another nonetheless.

      Also, did they not get consultants on how Big Data, pattern recognition, and anomaly detection algorithms work? If everything’s connected to this degree, everything is also monitored and known. And the idiots sitting behind terminals around a floating map would be responding to automated alerts before having to hunt for anomalies. So you wouldn’t get stupid scenes where some security person is like, “scan the video feeds like it’s 1987! to see if anything unusual is happening on any of the floors!” The same technology required for the level of sophisticated AI for the park would be the same technology that would make it so you wouldn’t need to manually look at video feeds to find out about strange occurrences.

      The show has a massive incongruity when it comes to fusing future tech in one sphere with dumb terminal tech in another sphere. For example, the worker kid who we learn loves to have his way with new bodies? Yeah, I’m sure all those glass rooms, cameras, and connected systems made that possible without being detected/fired because who’s going to scan all those video feeds! Sigh…

      Ironically, Westworld tries really hard to be a thinker show about exposition, so it’s not a stretch to call out its sloppiness in world building. What’s worse, it’s not something that anyone struggles to understand in the world created… They all seem to know exactly how all the tech works even if apparently the showrunners don’t. That said, I did really like the premise, great use of music, and fun interplay of Western themes and sci-fi existential musing. It was an enjoyable show.

  • Has anyone ever read Tor Norretranders’ The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size? It has some interesting things to say on just how rare and special and uncommon consciousness might NOT be. Maybe a weather vane that senses stimuli, responds to that stimuli and communicates its response is not as far below us as we think.

    It seems that self-awareness just may be the crux of the biscuit. Maybe that’s where what we call “consciousness” gets a toehold. And, though I’m not sure, I’ll bet it’s not like a light switch. I’ll bet there’s a spectrum of self-awareness that we are near one end of and a weather vane is at the other end of. Try and think back to when you became self-aware. Can you pinpoint an instant where the lights came on and you said, “Wow, here I am,” like the sperm whale and the bowl of petunias generated by the Infinite Improbability Drive in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? There may be people who can, but I can’t. I was self-aware at six because my grandmother asked me what it felt like to be six and I said, “Duh, I dunno,” as I fiddled with the window crank in the back seat of my dad’s Hunter Green Buick Roadmaster. But it’s not like that’s when I all of a sudden knew that I was; that’s just when I realized that it didn’t feel any different to be six than it felt to be anything else. Memories very much earlier than that become far and few and fuzzy, trailing off into . . . what? Oblivion?

    The User Illusion comes unraveled a little bit at the end when Norretranders goes of on some environmental activist rants that are maybe a little off-topic, but one thing he does focus on at the end of the book is that the absolutely discreet individual consciousness that we in the Western world take for granted may not have always been the norm and may still not be the exclusive norm in other cultures, especially ones based more on clan, tribe and family than on clearly demarcated individuals. People in our past and people in other cultures foreign to us may operate with something more like a hive-mind style consciousness. Consciousness might only not be discreet in time, but maybe not always in space, either.

    Amen, hey baby, and all that shit!

  • Terri

    I didn’t understand why the bullets started killing the humans when the hosts’ programs were altered. I haven’t listened to the episode yet. Do you guys talk about this?

  • triplets99

    Have you listened to the recent Sam Harris podcast episode called Abusing Delores? I think the infants could unpack and discuss it…