Corporate Power in Westworld

Westworld Telegraph

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Hi, love the podcast. I know Gene IRL and only learned about your podcast this last Thursday so I’ve been trying to catch up by listening to the episode recaps. Apologies for repeating anything that may have been covered by your fan e-mails. This email has no particular order, but I’ve titled each section to make things a bit easier to read.

Opening Observations

The opening introduces the player piano, an amazing invention that allowed a mechanical object to evoke emotion. And although music boxes existed, the player piano is was the direct influence for modern computing as the Bletchley Park ENGIMA cracking machine and Assembler/FORTRAN punch cards evidence. And the whole obsession with rock songs on the piano is just silly. Metallica is already considered classic rock today, by the Westworld future it qualifies as classical music.

The piano and player are shown to be playing and the question of who is playing and who is answered when the hands lift away. To me this is a metaphor for our own lives: fate or choice?

Two robots fucking: well obviously they’re being created/observed. But although that is obvious the question is: do they feel anything? And the fact we can’t tell is teh statement.

I am surprised nobody has talked about the Rider in the last part, riding the horse and wielding a gun. It is obviously Death, who rides a Pale Horse. The fact it is a woman? Probably Dolores.

Two Different Timelines

You blew my mind. This was something that I never even thought of until I listened to your podcast. That B83 storage area definitely looks like the visitor’s center and it does explain how the picture Mr. Abernathy found was the same as Logan’s picture of his sister that he shoved in William’s face. Those private conversations between Bernard and Dolores in “the room” imply they’re chronological, but the very first conversation between Dolores and Bernard/Arnold was all in her head (no face to face) so we can assume the rest were similar and scattered.

Corporate Power

We’ve had observations and theories about what the Executive Board wants and what IP is in demand. You’ve also talked about cost and concluded that it is restrictive and that they wouldn’t waste hosts in an explosion.

I disagree.

I’ve worked for corp and government enough to know that the waste is rampant and ridiculous. It’s endemic to large organizations. To admit waste, admits incompetence. To try to correct or curb waste requires massive effort. What’s the first thing a new CEO does? Make ridiculous cuts to show ‘profit’, not actually create revenue streams. Westworld is no different. And in situations where there’s a large change such as the corpse nitro bomb when someone like Williams’ family, already involved with the company, I’m sure they’d approve the corpse bomb pyrotechnics as long as it’s ‘safe’.

Money is nothing in the face of power. Sci-Fi has predicted that corporations will be more powerful than governments for years. In this future I assume that De Los has the power of a small nation and that they have plans for Westworld as a holding. As you said I doubt they’ll go ‘military’ with Westworld tech, but AI, clones, bodies to use as ‘hosts’ for people who don’t want to die, hell, even using Westworld as a ‘real world simulation’ all have value. It may not even be so obvious. When FedEx, Amazon and Google started everyone thought they were ridiculous. FedEx was inefficient. Amazon doesn’t even have a storefront and Google? They search and send you to other sites. How useless! Yeah.

Another sobering thought: if you think corporations couldn’t hold life and death power over the public just look at what’s happening over oil at Standing Rock.

Ford

How does Ford suddenly appear where needed? In the bar with Teddy and the Man in Black or at the Family House? Incredibly easy: he has spies, and alarms and is able to predict things. I work in IT and do this all the time for any system where break down may occur so I can head it off.

Ford has been known to lie and order deaths, but I don’t think he lies about Arnold’s work. In fact I believe he’s envious of what Arnold was able to do and probably why he had Arnold killed by one of his own creations. He missed Arnold enough to create Bernard, but I don’t believe Ford knows everything about how the hosts work e.g. he couldn’t write the code from scratch. He can make alterations but they might have unexpected consequences, such as The Reveries. Procedure was ALWAYS to ‘wipe’ the hosts, so giving even partial access to previous memories was downright dangerous, akin to poking holes in a dam. What’s Ford’s motivation for this change? A mistake like he claimed? An intentional breach of procedures? For what end? Part of a plan? Or has he reached a point where age and regret have motivated him to try things Arnold’s way.

Even though Ford has demonstrated his control of the Hosts and able to change WestWorld, he is acutely aware of a few things: he was not as good as Arnold. Ford is growing older and will most likely die soon. He has enough to regret and may be trying to correct things.

The Shakespearean quotes from the Tempest also foreshadow great things. Prospero, the magician is powerful and has a child (daughter) he wishes to protect. Eventually he proclaims that he will break his staff and burn his books. I believe this is what Ford’s Opus will be. His end.

The City Swallowed by Sand is obviously the first town shown in the square dancing and the Church where the first Hosts go for solace from the voice in their heads. And the black steeple that Ford sees on his walk will be where it will all end.

I also believe that the Wyatt character is Ford’s view of himself in the past, destroying everything and turning his followers into killers. “Making peace with past indiscretions” is what Teddy said when he shot down the Union soldier. Teddy will be Ford’s instrument of his own demise. He knows he’s losing control: the Maze, the boy killing the dog. He wants it all to end.

And Dolores. I believe Ford kept Dolores in her loop as punishment for killing Arnold. He created a hell for her to relive over and over.

Westworld Employees

There’s an obvious color scheme going on with clothing further than Black and White hats. Behavior, Narrative and QA all wear Black. I can safely say they’re human as they’re the final decision makes. Everybody else in white or white/red are hosts. Yes Sylvester and Felix too. They’re given as much personality as they need to operate. This is why what Felix is doing with the bird is so ‘bad’ and why they’re unable to deal with Maeve.

With IP why risk it with humans? Robots build other robots all the time in our present. May as well make hosing down and maintaining hosts a robot job too.

In scripting I have scripts that call other scripts. I have variables and dependencies that can be put in place wherever needed. I have automation creating and maintaining automation all the time.

Westworld Working Areas

Someone on the podcast thought the behavior work areas were unrealistic, but I think it makes sense. They had to be big enough to contain large animals and groups of people. Also, large spacious areas make it easier to supervise/differentiate.

The Volkwagen factory that produces Phaetons looks much like this: part Apple Store, part Museum. People can order a Phaeton and come and watch it being constructed.

Additionally we see that the Design areas are more cramped/full of examples and the cleaning and recycling area is different/full of supplies.

Dolores vs Maeve

I’m so glad you identified the strong women in the series as well as the differences between Dolores and Maeve and I think you’re on target with their Path. They both have flashbacks but they treat them differently.

Dolores hears a voice and does what it says within the narrative of the Westworld. She’s a puppet.

Maeve has flashbacks but seeks for the deeper meaning of her existence to the point where she repeatedly goes “to Hell and Back”. She takes action to take control of her life.

Why Westworld?

There was some discussion about why choose Westworld as the park. I think there’s a very basic reason: America. In the movie there was Roman and Medieval but those are European. The beginning of American that we’re proud of isn’t landing at Plymouth Rock or the Quakers in the East. It was the Wild West and the New Frontier. Westerns are seen as very American to the rest of the world. Also, when first creating the Park they had to create something within scope. Something they could accomplish. If the first Hosts were as mechanical as Bill in storage a more advanced age like the roaring 20s with cars or WWII or 80s would be exponentially complex.

Arnold’s Objective

I believe Arnold was a genius who surpassed Ford and either achieved AI/consciousness or knew it could occur and wanted to stop creating/using the hosts as he saw it as slavery. Ford had him killed for this after a disagreement. Arnold may have made the first steps of downloading his consciousness as a Ghost in the Machine, but was unable to effect change until the Hosts were advanced enough to ‘connect’ with him. It may have been the Reveries which allowed them to access areas that were marked for deletion or it may have been a critical mass with updates.

William and Logan and The Man in Black

We’re obviously meant to identify with William as ‘The Good Guy’ but I feel we must make the dame distinction as we did with Dolores and Maeve. William is a reluctant participant and fails his hypocritical values. He won’t sleep with Clementine but he will sleep with Dolores if it’s ‘for love’. He’ll even kill for her despite thinking he wouldn’t kill anyone else.

I’ve done martial arts and trained self defense and law enforcement in edged weapons for years. One of the first things I ask a new class, “Who here as hurt someone on purpose?” Normally nobody raises their hand and I say, “Good. That’s normal. Hurting others is NOT natural. We must be conditioned. We must practice it. That’s why we train.” Movies/video games aren’t evil but that can condition people’s values.

This is what’s happening to William: he’s being drawn into doing things he thinks he wouldn’t do: cheat, lie, kill steal. We want to believe he will be the hero but in real life it’s just a downward spiral.

Logan is more ‘realistic’ as he knows this is a game and treats it as such. This is what we would be. I actually predict that HE will become the Man in Black. He already has influence with Westworld. He will drive William to destruction and will regret it, become an agent of Good and will continue coming to the Park for 30 years to figure out what happened. I find this more likely because of what we assume of the Timelines: Dolores is still there. The Man in Black returns for 30 years following the ‘incident’.

Think about it: if William survived and ran away with Dolores then she would not be there. Even if he survived the incident, why would he return for 30 years opening old wounds and seeing Dolores. No, I think he died and Logan would make it his life’s work to figure out what he saw on this trip, to find the Maze and set the hosts free like his friend wanted.

Misc.

When William is in preparation he is told, “There is no manual. No guidebook. Figuring it out is half the fun.” This is the same theme as Apple’s products. Only some basics are given, but the user interface is well thought out so that intuitive actions are rewarded.

Ford muses, “We’ve cured sickness … the weakest of us survive.” I get the feeling he wants this to change. Perhaps he wants to use the Hosts to kickstart evolution again.

14/20 – I agree with D that although you may have a setting of 20 you don’t operate there. You may want to push some part to overdrive or maybe it was a matter of scaling back but you see this all the time in tech: things aren’t run at 100% capacity all the time. You may need more processing power at some times more than others.

Easter Egg

Yul Brenner when Bernard goes to Level B82

Looking forward to your Instacast of tonite’s show!

R

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