Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) of Westworld.

Westworld is an artificial world in which people from the real world live out their sick fantasies. On their visits they learn who they are capable of being if nothing stood in their way—no laws, no consequences. The AI hosts they interact with, by contrast, live out the same lives every day.

However, the show is clever to blur the boundaries between ‘real’ and ‘artificial’. While the humans entangle their purpose with Westworld’s stories, which are designed for them, the AI hosts experience the world mentally, feel pain, and enter relationships with one another.

Both entities think they’re real.

As the humans and the AI hosts immerse themselves in new worlds—the former seek the hidden meaning of the artificial world; the latter seek the freedom of the ‘real world’—a big question emerges: namely, how does one awaken themselves from the stories they’ve been told in their lives until now?

We, too, ask: Can I find meaning and freedom in my world? Has my whole life thus far been one predictable story?

One of Westworld’s makers, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins; pictured), says a solution is to be found in suffering: feeling your adversity and using it to create an escape, an awakening. This is something we’ve covered on The Human Front before.

Ford, with reference to the world’s other maker, Arnold, expands:

'It was Arnold's key insight, the thing that led the hosts to their awakening: suffering. The pain that the world is not as you want it to be. It was when Arnold died, when I suffered, that I began to understand what he had found.'

Should we make ourselves suffer then? No. What Ford means is that a new world to be purposive and free in is opened up on the back of real pain: by choosing to fight for a better world in which genuine suffering no longer exists; by fighting for something real to live for.

The source of pain, ‘real’ or ‘artificial’, provides a force for us to push against with the truest of desires.

What do you think?