The HBO television show Westworld depicts a futuristic “amusement park” where visitors are allowed to live out their fantasies through interactions with artificial lifeforms or “hosts.” I would love to visit this place, not for the thrilling adventure of a shootout or sex with a western prostitute, but to stroke all those beautiful robotic horses and tell them they’re good boys.
I love horses, and robot or not, I want them all to know they’re good boys.
Many park visitors depicted in the show excitedly take the steam engine into Westworld in anticipation of a great romance, or the chance to finally rape and/or kill someone without consequence. That’s all fine and good but if I were riding that train I’d have a totally different pleasure planned–cozying up to those majestic beasts of burden, a juicy apple in hand, and telling them, “You are a good boy, such a good good boy.”
I can almost taste it.
Those watching the show might view Westworld as a shocking dystopia, meant to warn us off of the dangers of constant wish-fulfillment in our ever-expanding technology and UI, and it’s like, sure, I can see that. But imagine telling a horse he’s a good boy, and knowing he’ll still be there tomorrow to be told he’s a good boy, no matter what happens to him today.
That horse could get shot nine times and then while you’re sleeping, an employee would just pump him full of synthesized horse blood and send him back out to pasture where you’ll find him all patched in the morning, ready to be called a “nice happy guy who is so beautiful and needs his carrots.” Is that so bad?
Is it so crazy that I want this future world to exist?
Currently I don’t have access to any horses, which is a true tragedy for me—a horse lover who just wants to brush their coats and tell them they have been good. In Westworld this would change.
So yeah, despite whatever judgments you have about the implications of artificial intelligence, I want to go there. I want to go there and tell all those horses they’re good boys. Because they are. They are very, very good boys.