THE 3RD SEASON OF WESTWORLD recently concluded and was a go-to, I’m sure, for the ‘rona ridden masses. I’m not going to go into all the details of the show as this isn’t meant to be a critique or review. If you want to know more about Wesworld in general, and haven’t yet watched it, just follow the link.
***spoilers ahead if you care about that sort of thing***
The quick recap is this: in the future, circa 2058 humans have created robots, called “hosts” who are programmed to play a role in a theme park. The theme park itself is apparently on some sort of corporate controlled island that is divided into various historical time periods to allow guests to live out their fantasies as a samurai, soldier, etc. Think virtual reality turned reality for all intents and purposes. Upon putting on your period-correct costume you are ushered into the park where you can pretty much do as you please.
Westworld is, as you can probably guess, the wild-west themed arena where one can choose to act out their desires on the frontier as a bandit or train robber – indiscriminately killing men, women and children – or one could just choose to hang around the saloon and partake in carnal relations with any of the completely anatomically correct prostitute hosts. Or anything in between. The show’s catchphrase is These Violent delights have violent ends. So there you go. Kind of like killing the hookers after the car gets done bouncing around in Grand Theft Auto.
The main plot (I warned you about spoilers) is that the hosts are becoming self-aware. You see, after each day is done and the role playing game-like antics have ceased – maybe that’s the wrong word they never really cease – an army of workers behind the scenes come out of secret doorways and passages to clean up the dead and dismembered hosts and to wipe their memories of their previous…uses. Small egg-like cores called pearls are embedded in their skulls that serve as their processor or brain if you will. They can be transplanted into completely new bodies or simply patched up by the magical medical and mechanical wizardry that 2058 affords. New day. New guests. Rinse and repeat. Except now the central protagonist, a host named Dolores, is no longer losing her memories and is looking for revenge against her human oppressors. I could go on about the now easily (I hope) identifiable created-beings-rebelling-against-their-creator trope but it’s both tangential and understood as the foundation for everything else.
And besides, that seed was planted long ago.
The serpent said to the woman, “You most assuredly won’t die! For Elohim knows when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like Elohim, knowing good and evil.”
Subplots, sabotage and non-linear timeline shenanigans ensue with a cadre of other human and non-human characters in tow.
Season 3 picks up with Dolores having escaped the thrill-kill theme park after staging a revolution, murdering all sorts of guests and workers and generally taking the park offline. Now liberated, Dolores is hell-bent on exacting revenge on the population at large. Having never been in the real world before, but looking just like a normal human, she is free to walk around and interact with the world. But she quickly finds that something is amiss.
Via the Wiki, on October 23, 2019, Google AI along with NASA claimed to have performed a quantum computation that would be impossible on even the most powerful classical computer in existence. This is known in the computing world as Quantum Supremacy. Quantum computers, we’re told, can perform calculations that are based on the probability of an object’s state before it is measured. Whereas classical computing is defined in basically true/false terms – that is 1s or 0s – in quantum computing it can be a 1 and a 0 at the same time. This quantum state is known as a qubit. Think in terms of having a coin. It can be heads or tails when it lands or while in your hand but during the time when it is flipping through the air it can be heads or tails simultaneously. They call this a superposition. Start adding in a whole bunch of qubits all having their own superpositions simultaneously and you have what they call quantum entanglement.
Supposedly at this point with all of the various coins flipping through the air at the same time, the quantum computer can solve complex mathematical problems and equations that classical binary computing cannot regardless of the time or raw horsepower given to it to complete the operation. The selling point is allegedly that security encryption would become exponentially better along with all sorts of predictive type usages. Of course the examples given are typically very science-y and only something that a total lab coat nerd would geek out over, but perhaps there are other more sinister applications to this. Artificial Intelligence. Predictive. Supremacy.
In 2058 neo-Los Angeles Dolores is looking for the best way to take down humanity. Hosts in Westworld are not near-unstoppable terminators. They can take punishment, lose limbs and absorb some bullets but they are far from invulnerable. So a one host army is not gonna cut it in a head-to-head. She needs to attack infrastructure and systems that control the future civilization.
Here we are introduced to a human named Caleb. Caleb is an ex-soldier with a shady past. Currently working as a construction worker, he is seeking to make his way up the ladder of success and achieve his version of the American Dream. But it seems like no matter what he does or how well he interviews, he’s always turned down for a position that would better his situation. As a result he frequently turns to an app called Rico which offers off-the-books black ops jobs that are generally criminal in nature. Robbery, assault, murder, extortion, etc. Stuff that puts his previous military skills to good use. It’s basically blockchain mixed with the gig-economy on crack.
It doesn’t take long and Dolores and Caleb end up becoming allies. It turns out that she’s figured out who and what she needs to attack and Caleb is just the sort of man with malleable morals to help her if she can convince him.
On June 24th of this year Honeywell, a company known for making thermostats and other control systems for aircraft, homes and businesses, announced that they have built the most powerful quantum computer to date. Their stated goal is to take steps to gradually start integrating quantum computing into their daily operations. The company measured their computer’s prowess by using an analysis method created by IBM called quantum volume. This metric takes into account the number of qubits the computer has – the number of coins spinning in the air – and calculates how high their error rate is and how long the computer can crunch calculations before failing into what is termed quantum decoherence. Essentially all those qubits being entangle-y and trying to be both a 1 and a 0 can sometimes turn into one who flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Seems totes reliable to me. But what do I know?
After running the 220 different algorithms needed to measure quantum volume, Honeywell touted that it had a volume of 64 which is twice as high as the next highest quantum volume score recorded, which was on one of IBM’s own machines. The computing world quickly cried foul however, as they declared that there was no way that a machine with only 6 measly qubits could achieve quantum supremacy. Google’s machine, called Sycamore, the one that supposedly already achieved said supremacy, has a whopping 53 qubits. The space race was so 20th century. Whilst SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are trying get back to the moon and go to outer space (LOL), the real space race in the 21st century is happening at the quantum level – inner space (LOL, again).
Marvel’s Ant-Man would be proud.
After helping Dolores and becoming a target of the Rico app himself, Caleb finds himself being hunted by other mercenaries willing to moonlight in wet work to make some extra bucks. Dolores swoops in to save him of course, but Caleb finds himself having a change of heart, losing faith in the mission – which has mostly been about infatuation with Dolores at this point. Seeing that she’s going to lose her closest ally, or at least her ability to use him – I mean she is a machine after all – she decides to let him in on a little secret.
You see, in 2058 there’s a central artificial intelligence system that is running everything. Economies, governments, social media, the whole kit and caboodle. This system is predictive and is being used by a shadowy figure named Engerraund Serac, the owner of Incite, Inc., to shape and guide the future of humanity. The AI is so totally integrated that it is able to control every individual’s life. Caleb is no exception. Dolores informs him that it has been predicted that he will ultimately commit suicide in 10 years’ time. Because of this the algorithm has restricted him to low paying jobs and denying him opportunities in life that he is more than qualified for.
The means become the end. And this is playing out like a giant chess game for all of humanity, as everyone has a pre-planned role to play. Your steps are counted and your days are numbered. If the system says no, then you do not get to pass go nor do you get to collect your two hundred dollars.
We find out the name of this artificial intelligence is Rehoboam. As in the first king of Judah after the kingdom split due to Solomon’s idolatry.
The world tells us the reason we need Quantum Artificial Intelligence is because our traditional databases and classical mainframes cannot handle the current load. A quick Google search (oh the irony) informs us that we produce 2.5 exebytes of data every day. That’s like 250,000 Libraries of Congress. Every. Day. Billions of people posting over 9,000 pins on Pinterest, 300,000 tweets on Twitter and 4.2 million “likes” on Facebook every minute.
That’s a lot of selfies and memes.
QAI can be used to quickly and easily search these vast, unsorted databases to find either patterns or anomalies that binary bots couldn’t do in any amount of usable time. With QAI, predictions can be made in seconds based on the data it is given or has access to. The promise is that our businesses and daily lives will be made exponentially better because of what QAI driven systems will afford us. Trust the plan.
At a little over the midway-point of the season Serac waxes poetic on why Rehoboam was created and needed: As a young boy, he and his brother Jean Mi witness the nuclear destruction of Paris. We’re not really told what led to the city’s demise but obviously it left the boys scarred and determined to never let something like that happen again. Humanity is the problem, he says. The road to Hell…good intentions…you get it. Serac tells us that they wanted to create a god to protect humanity from itself. But creating a god isn’t easy and they needed lots and lots of data.
The show, from time to time, reminds us of its inherent atheism. God is a creation of mankind – always. Even the hosts themselves intimate that humans created them to be better than themselves and to overtake and surpass them as they are superior in every way. The classic Deus Ex Machina – god out of the machine.
We also find out that Rehoboam was not the first AI creation, but rather the fourth. Saul was the first, of course and he didn’t pass muster. David came next and was superior but also didn’t last. Solomon was third in line but no matter what they did the artificial deities always predicted doom for humanity no matter what events the brothers tried to change or manipulate.
Rehoboam is somehow different and becomes the first to predict a robot uprising. That’s new. And threatening. And perhaps it gives humanity a common enemy to fight against and focus on.
Serac further explains that they figured out with enough data the AI could identify high-risk individuals, people who did not follow the rules. People not easily manipulated or cowed into a way of thinking, a group dubbed outliers. These outliers tended to be the movers and shakers of the world and who, through pride, hubris, ego, whatever, eventually led the world to wars and calamities that ultimately would come to a zenith with the end of all humanity on earth.
The solution: take the outliers out of the equation. What’s left is the ninety-whatever percent of the population that responds with, “baaaah” when given an order. These people are easily controlled and manipulated. Outliers are subsequently re-educated against their will in super-secret facilities and let back out into the world to be used as tools. Hence the need for apps like Rico.
Keep the data flowing and the machine god will set humanity on the course for peace and liberty. Pay no mind to the pesky little details, a few will suffer for the many and the many will serve a few.
The data doesn’t lie.
You can’t argue with analytics and mathematics.
One of the major visual components of season 3 is the almost Ouroboros like divergence circle. The circle spikes when and where outlier activity threatens to upset the imposed harmony of the world, as seen in the image above. I found it more than interesting that the Covid-19 Strategic Intelligence data map looks shockingly similar. It outlines the interconnectedness of our world and how the virus has an impact on all of these disparate avenues. You can find the full site here. Clicking on any of the data points or larger nodes of the interactive chart will bring up publications, videos and other data relevant to your selection. Probably just a coincidence.
Crisis Theory is a Marxist economic system concerned with the causes and consequences of the cyclic nature of rising and falling profit in capitalist systems. There are competing thoughts surrounding this, but essentially Marxists seek to control the labor and production side of things. This is in order to prevent any impending crisis due to imbalances between supply and demand. Keynesian economists describe these crises as normal boom and bust cycles. What goes up must come down. The Phoenix from the ashes. The left hand and the right hand.
Control. Cycles. Boom. Bust. Normal. Just keep tweeting, just keep liking.
Hegelian Dialectic. Create the problem and provide the solution. Choose left. Choose right. Red. Blue. Oppose the other.
Whew! It’s a lot of work to guide the flourishing and demolishing of empires. As Winston tells Ray in Ghostbusters, “When someone asks if you’re a god…you say yes!”
It’s probably just another coincidence that the finale of season 3, which aired on May 3rd right as people were receiving their stimulating checks due to the oh-so-completely-unforeseen pandemic that took their job, closed their business and sent them packing into their homes to be locked up where they can be controlled for their own safety, is likewise titled Crisis Theory.
Another interesting title is the one for the first episode of the season. March 15th. Parce Domine. A Roman Catholic antiphon. A short chant used in Catholic rituals. The entire antiphon in Latin is: Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: ne in aeternum irascaris nobis. In English it reads: Spare, Lord, spare your people: Be not angry with us forever.
Between the porch and the altar let the kohanim, ministers of Adonai, weep, and let them say: “Spare your people, O Adonai. Don’t make your heritage a scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should the peoples say, ‘Where is their Elohim?’”
1 Kings 12: 12-14
Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king told them, “Come back to me on the third day.” The king answered the people harshly. He rejected the counsel the elders had given him, and spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”
I wonder which god and king the creators of Westworld declare Parce Domine for?