9 Reasons Why Robots Will Take Your Job If You Like Westworld

December 07, 2016 :: Reading time: 10 minutes, 34 seconds

Westworld logo

HBO's Westworld is, to a technologically capable person, an insult.

Apart from cliché dialog, guns with infinite bullets, and rogue robots that suddenly have more knowledge about the modern world (behavior, speech, fighting technique, and use of weapons) than they could ever possibly have without access to the internet, here's why I think Westworld can only be impressive or entertaining to technologically clueless people (colloquially known as techtards), or those who simply do not care and appreciate the trash value.

Needless to say, spoilers follow.

1. Manual repairs

The "hosts" (a.k.a. androids) of Westworld are there as sexbots and crash test dummies. So the idea that the technicians repair them, manually, one by one after a calamity, is moronic.

In a show where even the opening sequence shows a modern kind of 3D printing, the show's authors would have us believe that it is easier and/or cheaper to hire people to manually patch up the massacred robots, rather than print them anew at a mass producing scale (they obviously have the capacity, given the number of robots in the park).

3D printing robots

And yet, rather than just break the broken ones down into raw materials and build new ones faster, they seem intent on being robot doctors, no matter how much murder happened, and - what's more - on keeping the broken ones standing around in the basement.

Cold storage

Obviously, the makers of the show have no idea of the computational power required to keep a bipedal robot upright.

Yes, the "keeping broken robots around" turned out to be a cheap plot point at the end, but it made zero sense as far as realism goes.

2. Memory Flashes

Image of a faded photograph from the show

The robots eventually start to remember terrible things from their pasts - things visitors did to them, and wanting revenge. Yes, having this plot hole there required the first plot hole - manual repairs. After all, if you made a new host every time one was destroyed, there would be no memory to pass on. Or so the authors of the show, who apparently never heard of cloud based backups, thought.

If you low level format a drive, you properly format a drive - nothing remains. If you have a past snapshot of it, you have a past snapshot of it, and that's exactly how it's restored. Yes, there are rootkit malwares that can't be easily cleared out by formatting, but in those cases, and when people's lives and millions in profits are on the line, one would think they would just get a new drive, copy the story from a backup over, put into the repaired body, and move on.

And anyway, that's not how software "memory" works.

3. Audio Diagnostics and Vague Instructions

There are several scenes in which the "engineers" debug the robots by sitting in front of them and just saying "analysis", then asking the robot questions. "Has anyone tampered with you?"

A robot in analysis

This is retarded for several reasons.

  1. No programmer would ever, ever debug anything via audio. First of all, that sort of debugging doesn't leave a trail you can follow easily to the bug. Secondly, typed input is MUCH faster and leads to timestamps, variables, decisions, and other details the robot cannot simply dictate out for you.
  2. If a robot has been tampered with, then it can tell you lies! Why would you ask it things? Take its brain out, plug in, get a decision log and file modification time dump and get on with it! While you're doing that, give the robot a new brain with a fresh backup installed, and it can go back into the field without wasting precious client time.

Furthermore, all the robots in the show eventually execute some sort of action when told to do so by an engineer. However, none of these actions are definitive. In fact, most of them are downright vague and general - including the debugging requests! How does a robot know which answer to give, what to do? How does it interpret the command? Does it have creativity to fill in the gaps? And if it does have creativity, how can you possibly trust this robot to do audio debugging on it?

4. Idiot staff

The staff in the Westworld park are dumb and deaf idiots. At one point in the last episode, a robot is beating an engineer up as the other engineer is preparing to violate another robot in the next room. The directors obviously forgot that even though the violating engineer did have earphones and couldn't hear the commotion, he wasn't blind. They're in a glass laboratory, you can see reflections of everything everywhere!

There's plenty of other indicators of their worthlessness, but the following takes the cake. When Maeve first wakes up while being serviced (see #1), she and the engineer have a dialog that basically amounts to this:

Maeve: "Hello I would like to put many lives at risk"

Engineer: "Omg no"

Maeve: "I will tell everyone you treat me like your own sex doll - you know, the exact thing I was designed to be."

Engineer: "Omg ok then"

Pretty much all it took to get him in on a massacre.

The engineers she blackmails into repeatedly helping her could have destroyed her many times, yet chose not to for fear of... shame? No, by all means, let's give a robot superpowers and autonomy, what could go wrong?

A threatened engineer

Just one of them growing a spine and just going to the boss with "yes I have bot sex" would have been all it took to prevent a tragedy.

5. Safety Measures

The park is allegedly super safe, as in, the weapons the bots fire at humans don't really fire bullets but pellets (which, by the way, sometimes stun humans to the ground, and sometimes just bounce of with zero force), but for some reason penetrate robots.

A robot bandit threatening the camera with a gun

What about mêlée? Punching, kicking, or just plain old 2-by-4-ing? We've seen them fistfight with humans, so they obviously can do that - it looks like the writers didn't really get informed about the potential damage a punch can do. Shattered jaws, concussions, hell, even falling after a punch can leave you with a broken neck or shattered skull if you fall onto something awkward. A pistolwhip can easily kill, and a strong punch to the throat can collapse your trachea.

Mêlée is arguably just as dangerous as bullets, and in western times when guns were imprecise and held very few bullets, brawls often broke out instead. Hell, forget about mêlée even - what about the good old fashioned killing of the days of old like hanging, lynching, burning, being dragged on rocky terrain by bewildered horses...?

6. Arnold

As we find out in the finale, Arnold, the company's co-founder, gets himself killed by one of the bots. Ford then builds a bot which - lo and behold - looks exactly like Arnold, and names him Bernard. And no one - not a soul in the whole compound thought it was strange that there is a man identical to their former boss walking around and being chief programmer, but calling himself Bernard and not remembering anyone named Arnold. What?

Arnold / Bernard

The only possible explanation for this is that everyone else on staff is also a robot, which would make sense from a financial standpoint, but we know it isn't so because Maeve told us when the dumb engineer (see #4) asked her.

7. Bus Factor and Surveillance

Apropos idiot staff (see #4), as dumb as they may be, they also seem to be the only 10 or so people in the world to qualify for the job. In the software development industry, we call this the bus factor - the goal of a project is to have a high bus factor, so that a large number of people need to be hit by a bus in order for the project to come to a stop. If there's only one developer in charge of things, then a single bus hitting a single person will ruin a project. The bus factor is low.

In Westworld, it seems everyone is irreplaceable and everyone works 24/7 shifts. There is no other lead programmer, no other level 2 programmer, no other engineer fixing Maeve. Whenever she breaks, it's always that one guy. An explanation for this would be everyone on staff being robots, but Maeve already covered that (see #6) and also, it doesn't play along with the massacre at the end.

The control room in Westworld

So since everyone is of such high importance, how can they just... disappear? The moment the woman running the game - Theresa - dies, a skanky black woman takes her place and literally no one bats an eye. A few people are a bit confused, but then shrug it off and business as usual. Bernard's chief engineer Elsie disappears, and again - no one bats an eye. A chief engineer. Are you insane? Do you know the impact of a highly knowledgeable, highly involved engineer suddenly disappearing from a software project? At the very least you keep in touch with them to pick their brain on what was done and what still needs to be done etc - yet no one is even bothered by her sudden departure. Bernard isn't because he's programmed not to be, but everyone else? Not a single engineer wonders about it. Was she even needed there?

Additionally, there's only ever like 5 people in the control room. In the last episode, we get a glimpse of some kind of supervisors around the holographic model of the park, 4 groups of 4 I think, but those are like puppets:

Tool: "Sir we have an error or something in cold storage" (lol, see #1)

Boss: "Bypass the system and check feeds floor by floor" (he literally says this. Obviously in Westworld, in order to check camera feeds you need to... bypass the system?)

... later

Boss: "Find anything yet?"

Tool: I got something. shows MURDER SCENE IN LAB

At this point, I like to think that the boss is thinking "holy shit, how can we have conscious AI in our sex dolls, but no AI to keep an eye on our camera feeds and notice a murder, let alone facial recognition to track an escapee?"

8. The "Maze" arc

The twist at the end about William being Ed Harris' character is kinda cute, but the whole search for the maze for 35 years or whatnot is blindingly stupid. For one, why would the maze's logo be tattooed on the inside of robot scalps? (Ed Harris actually peels one off at one time and shows it to us)

The maze on a scalp

Secondly, what was the freaking point? It took him 35 years to get to a place that's literally 50m away from the final celebration? And he couldn't have tracked the fembot there sooner? Obviously she's been idling there for decades, so just track her, no need to beat her up or go on a rampage. That whole Ed Harris character and his Maze story arc was just completely misdeveloped, as if abandoned half-way.

9. Writers have no idea how AI works

The fact that Ford and Arnold were trying to develop "consciousness" in robots is moronic. First of all, a consciousness doesn't need a humanoid body. It's incredibly hard to make bipedal robots, especially ones whose power supply apparently never runs out. So just creating those would have been an accomplishment the profits of which could have sustained their research for decades, without having to deal with a park at all. A proper consciousness would always be developed in software form first - as an application on a normal cluster of computers, not in an android. The shape and form of the box the consciousness is in makes absolutely no difference.

A skeptical look from Elsie

Second, here was a sentence with which Arnold defended the non-complete wiping of memories in robots that were supposed to become conscious: "How can you learn from your mistakes if you can't remember them?". Obviously, the writers have no idea how machine learning works. Yes, mistakes happen (and they're often more valuable than positives), but the preference is saved, the points added to the knowledge graph, and the experience is no longer relevant. It can literally be discarded.

Conclusion

If you're fascinated by Westworld, I have bad news for you: your job is about to be taken over by a robot within 10 years.

You haven't been training your brain enough to comprehend modern technological advances, so you think this low effort bullshit HBO threw at us is impressive. This means you cannot understand the modern world, and your job is eligible for replacement by an automated workforce.

Stop neglecting your brain. Come learn to code with us, and you'll be able to laugh at stupidly unrealistic sci-fi shows, too.

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