These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends: Representing Artificial Intelligence in HBO’s Westworld

Marshall, Kingsley ORCID logoORCID: (2018) These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends: Representing Artificial Intelligence in HBO’s Westworld. In: Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference, 19 April 2019, Marriot Wardman Park, Washington DC. (In Press)

Text (These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends: Representing Artificial Intelligence in HBO’s Westworld (Delivered at PCA/ACA Conference, Washington D.C. Science & Popular Culture Area Panel: From Game of Thrones to Westworld, 19 April 2019))
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Abstract / Summary

This presentation has been developed from Marshall, Kingsley. ‘Music as a Source of Narrative Information in HBO’s Westworld’. In Goody, Alex and Mackay, Antonia (Eds), 2019. Reading Westworld. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

"[People have] started to think of this only as a question of science fiction, and the reality is these things are happening very quickly. I believe we're going to start grappling with some of these questions far earlier than we anticipated." Jonathan Nolan (2016.2)

Westworld, HBO’s reboot of Michael Crichton’s 1973 science fiction feature film, is a television series centered around an amusement park with a near future setting. The show is orientated around three main themes – (1) the development and exploitation of robotic technology embodied in the human-like androids, or ‘hosts’, who occupy the park, (2) the ethics related to the deployment of these hosts by both employees of the corporation that created them, Delos Inc, and the human ‘guests’ of the park, and (3) an exploration of the nature of what constitutes consciousness specifically related to artificial intelligence and robotic technology.

These themes are predominantly explored as a number of the hosts develop sentience and through the acts of human characters who attempt to replicate themselves after death, initially within hosts who resemble them and later entirely through a machine-based consciousness. As in so much other science fiction, from Frankenstein (Shelley, 1818) to Ex Machina (Garland, 2015), the series uses these themes to consider notions of identity, memory and the formulation of the self and subjectivity.

This paper explores how the show makes use of complex storytelling techniques that play with linearity and causality, typical of what Warren Buckland has termed “puzzle plots” (2014: 2-3), in order to present to the audience the implications of some of the technical and ethical challenges iterated by the development of artificial intelligence in a near future setting.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: artificial intelligence; machine; learning; Westworld; film studies; television studies; Kingsley Marshall; Jonah Nolan; HBO; music; film; composing; score; sound; design; production studies;
Subjects: Computer Science, Information & General Works
Film & TV
Film & TV > TV > Foreign TV
Film & TV > Film > Hollywood Film
Philosophy & Psychology
Music > Sound Design
Courses by Department: The School of Film & Television > Film
Depositing User: Kingsley Marshall
Date Deposited: 01 May 2019 15:34
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:27


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