What the “Westworld” season premiere can teach us about the future of AI



What the “Westworld” season premiere can teach us about the future of AI

Credit: HBO

If I could be anything in the world, I’d probably become a pop culture writer.

One of my favorite shows on HBO is Westworld. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that people in the future can visit a theme park where they interact with robots who look and act just like humans.

Spoilers ahead: proceed with caution.

The end of season two left us with Dolores escaping the park, and, in the post-credits scene, she and Bernard both make it out.

What we know from season three trailers and teasers is that the action takes place a few months after the previous episode’s, god forbid there be a second timeline.

In the cold open, a smart home, straight out of an episode of Black Mirror, isn’t so smart after all. Dolores is able to hack it, which prevents the house’s owner from commanding it to stop her (sound familiar?).

The big plot line introduced is that Dolores is trying to get information about a company called Incite by cozying up to the son of its founder, who, might I add, is played by Spring Awakening‘s John Gallagher Jr. We’re not sure what exactly Dolores wants with Incite, but I’ll take a wild guess and say it can’t be too good.

We learn Incite has something, called “The System,” which has harnessed the power of lots of data. It seems to be something like the Cradle from season two, but bigger. Its predictive technology can identify how someone’s future will play out. Again, this relates back to the conversation Dolores and Bernard have with Logan, who is at that point a representation of all the Cradle’s information. Logan says people, like hosts, are essentially just playing a part that’s been written for them.

One feature of The System is its ability to place people in jobs based on who has the most potential. In a world where LinkedIn can suggest jobs for you based on the skills listed on your profile, I’d say this prediction isn’t so much of a stretch.

If The System thinks you’re S.O.L., then you’re S.O.L. One victim of its algorithm is driven to, what I was quite amused by, the Uber-esque app, called RICO, that allows our newest protagonist, a war veteran named Caleb, to pick up lucrative crime jobs. It’s gig economy meets dark web. RICO runs Caleb straight into the arms of our girl Dolores (actually, she collapses into his arms), after she faces off against an Incite exec who suspects she’s up to something.

Caleb also uses a phone therapist with the voice of his deceased best friend. We have therapy chat bots now, and with enough previous conversations to analyze, the bot could probably sound like our friends, too. He does suspend his use of the service toward the end of the episode, so clearly, something wasn’t working out.

Perhaps the show’s brazen attempts to illustrate the country 30 years into the future was not too off-base after all.


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