‘Westworld’ is 1 of my favourite science fiction films from the 1970’s. Drawing its influence from the ‘imagineering’ theme parks and animatronics of Walt Disney, this was Michael Crichton’s initially cautionary tale of a theme park going into meltdown that would later evolve into the ‘Jurassic Park’ franchise.
But it is also much more than that. In an post by Emily Asher-Perrin the author has written:
- ‘Westworld’ is not meant to be a cautionary tale about the terror of technologies. It is a cautionary tale about humanity’s failure to recognize its personal fallible nature, our tendency to think that all innovation is great innovation, and our inability to see previous the monetary worth of progress. All of these themes are usually present in Michael Crichton’s perform, and ‘Westworld’ provides a further fascinating backdrop to take into consideration these foibles.
The moral implications of building humanoid robots total with Artificial Intelligence have given that been explored in such cult classics as ‘Bladerunner’ and with the continuing progress of technologies accompanied by a lack of progress in human nature it appears as although the concerns raised in ‘Westworld’ are much more pertinent than ever. Certainly it is no coincidence that HBO have lately released a new tv series from this franchise.
‘Westworld’ challenges us to assume about the worth of human life and regardless of whether sentient beings should really be treated as objects of pleasure?
We have to acknowledge that some human beings have treated other human beings as absolutely nothing much more than ‘objects’ for pleasure or profit. This is correct historically and even now, for instance, slave trafficking continues to the present day. Dr Molefi Kete Asante stated in a Slavery Remembrance Day memorial lecture in 2007:
- A single may possibly claim that the top opinion-makers, philosophers, and theologians of the European enslavers organised the category of blackness as house worth. We Africans had been, in impact, without having soul, spirit, feelings, desires, and rights.
Historic arguments of regardless of whether African slaves possessed souls amid European academics of the eighteenth century resonates to a degree with the speculation of science fiction writers now regarding artificial intelligence becoming self conscious and hence possessing rights and dare it even be stated, a ‘soul’?
The query remains – Ought to sentient beings be treated as objects of pleasure?
While we could be a lengthy way from building an adult theme park in which we may possibly think about that humanoid robots have rights, the planet of video gaming is coming ever closer to meeting the darkest fantasies of our human nature.
I am not a prude about video games but they have come a lengthy way given that the days I made use of to queue at fairgrounds to play ‘Space Invaders’ as a young boy. While it is in its infancy, ‘virtual reality’ gaming is now a marketable commodity in the living space and is confident to create just as mobile phones have created exponentially in the previous two decades.
While the inspiration for ‘Westworld’ could have come from Disneyland it appears that virtual reality will bring the moral challenges of this cult classic closer to property sooner than we could think about. ‘Westworld’ is practically right here and it beckons the query of how this could influence our moral compass as human beings as virtual gaming develops and becomes much more accessible. Paul Tassi puts it like this in a current post:
- ‘Westworld’ is primarily the endgame for video games. As a physical space on the show, it is definitely not a virtual encounter, but it may possibly as nicely be, as it bargains with all the exact same challenges. I’m not worried about video game characters becoming self-conscious and attempting to murder me, but I am a small concerned about the capacity for almost any person to act out wildly violent fantasies in increasingly realistic scenarios that could someday include characters that feels as close to actual as you can get.
In a Storymen podcast on ‘The Theology of Westworld’, a Jewish Rabbi and a Christian Minister talk about the dehumanising impact of a theme park with no moral guidelines and the implications of this on the human spirit. Technologies is not intrinsically evil, it is merely a tool. But technologies usually raises moral concerns as to what it can empower us to do.
When mobile phones initially became accessible no one envisioned the moral debates we would have about social media more than mobile phones now. To that degree most persons would agree that mobile phones have not only changed in themselves in the previous twenty years but have radically changed the way we communicate and function as human beings. Research have shown for instance, how these technologies stimulate dopamine inside the human brain and the addictive behaviour that can incite.
As we are witnessing the birth of virtual reality gaming on a viable industrial basis in the domestic market place, some concerns emerge in my thoughts on the future of this technologies:
- What could virtual reality empower us to do, for great or ill?
- What behaviour will virtual reality incite as it develops?
- Are we on the cusp of building a digital ‘Westworld’?