A few fairly cryptic preliminary notes on Westworld

Last night, HBO ran the premiere episode of Westworld, a new series, much anticipated in many quarters, that derives from a decades-old film written and directed by Michael Crichton. The episode was highly suggestive, proposing much, establishing little, apart from the expected idea of a theme park populated by human-seeming androids. Instead of attempting to write about it, which would take time I don’t have, I’ll simply list a few things I thought about before, during, or after watching it.

  • R.U.R.—the 1920 play by Czech writer Karel Čapek, which introduced the word “robot”
  • Shmoos in the Li’l Abner comic strip
  • Dollhouse—Josh Whedon’s short-lived TV series about real people who agree to have their memories wiped and serve as programmable companions for hire
  • What constitutes consciousness and whether we’re equipped to recognize it—thoughtfully discussed by George Musser in an essay for Aeon last spring
  • What we owe to our creations and what they owe to us
  • Accidental versus intended results of technological work—dramatically speaking I prefer the latter, and the show seems to be leaning toward the former, but I must withhold judgment for now
  • The Nether—Jennifer Haley’s play about the moral consequences of imagined acts, which I wrote about here
  • Acting, which may be the oldest special effect of all

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