Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Westworld – a new frontier

Yesterday, I ordered the 1973 movie Westworld, directed and written by Michael Crichton at wow. I had no idea that the new HBO series was based on his original. To some extent, I’m excused as I was born in 1960 and I never saw this book in print. Latter also makes sense given the sky-high 2nd hand prices at Amazon. Michael Crichton is my all-time favourite writer.

For some well deserved praise, I refer to Wikipedia: “John Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was an American best-selling author, physician, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994, Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at No. 1 in US television (ER), film (Jurassic Park), and book sales (Disclosure).”

In Michael Crichton’s words: “In 1973, I made a movie called Westworld, which was a fantasy about robots. The film required us to show the point of view of the main robot, played by Yul Brynner. But what special-effects technique would best suggest a machine’s point of view? [] But in the end, we got what we needed. Westworld was the first feature film to process imagery by computer.”

Westworld is a very expensive amusement park that resembles the American Wild West (1783-1920). The Artificial Intelligent (AI) robots “are programmed to serve you for romance, violence, anything” (see movie poster). It’s like a combination of Disney’s Adventureland and a red-light district. As usual in Michael Crichton’s stories, the advanced technology is abused by humans with disastrous consequences (eg, cloned dinosaurs, eco-terrorists, genetics, nanotechnology and viruses).

My blog of 17 February 2016 referred to a Dutch public TV episode about how robotics is not only taking over our jobs but also our love and sex life. In that broadcast, AI researcher David Levy expects that humans will have sex and marriage with robots (eg, Dutch TV, NBC). I must admit that I was skeptical about this prediction back then. Yet, I wasn’t aware of Michael Crichton’s Westworld. He is (was) an extremely gifted writer. After seeing Monday’s 1st episode of HBO’s Westworld, it’s hard to believe that such a world could not exist.

Westworld is still ahead of today’s facts (known knowns) but is no longer the fantasy (unknown unknowns) that Michael Crichton saw in 1973. Today, my intuition (unknown knowns) tells me it’s possible. Most likely, some people will already believe (known unknowns) in such a world.

Today’s society already shows a distinct move from physical to virtual contact. Humanoids would potentially enable an “all gain, no pain” society (NL: alleen de lusten, niet de lasten). Human relationships typically bring emotions (read: gain and pain). Hence, I can now somehow envisage future relationships between humans and humanoids.

Westworld leverages on this idea of an “all gain, no pain” society. A commercial success could – or would – even indicate its future feasibility. I strongly feel that we are on the frontier of a very, very different millennium. In the first 200 years of the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100, technology was a tool, a servant. Technology is slowly mastering our lives in its 3rd century.

 Depeche Mode – Master and Servant (1984) – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

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