Westworld was bullshit
A developers take on a show that makes me so angry
Warning: If you haven’t watched Westworld, stop now, just stop. Let me tell you, I have the best spoilers, folks.
So Westworld, the hit HBO series that every damn person in this world is bonkers over. I will admit, for most of the show, I was sold. Kool-aid drank, give me more Westworld please give me more type of sold. It wasn’t till I started reflecting on past episodes that I started to realize how bad they missed the mark at times.
The show centers around the idea of AI becoming self aware and the implications of our morality once machines develop sentience, or something like that. I feel like my wife understood the deeper layers of that show far better than I could ever hope to. She’s wicked smart. But instead of dissecting the plot and the possible meanings of events that occurred, I’m going to talk about the things that absolutely ruined the show for me.
Ok HBO, you had a good thing going till you brought a couple of mid-level technicians into the show to alter the course of human history with their whacky hijinks.
In the show, dev 1 and dev 2 spend half the season playing around with an AI to the point where she can alter her programming, attack people (which is a big no no), and ultimately plan a daring escape through wave after wave of elite response teams.
What the shit kind of operation does Westworld have going on here? So everyone has access to all the code with no user roles or sysadmin to watch for this exact thing? Just root access for everyone, the password is on the damn fridge written in sharpie. These junior devs who at the start of the show were nervous about bringing an AI bird back to life are now altering a robot so she is able to outsmart and kill humans and nobody even gets an alert about it?
I know if I break a wordpress plugin, I have someone on my ass in a matter of hours, and you’re going to sit here and tell me that these kids have the ability to basically dismantle the entire foundation of the park and nobody even notices? I can disable caching on a site for one day and have a client eating his own head over what a disaster I’ve caused, but I guess nobody has email notifications in future space age Westworld. It’s all bullshit. I was waiting the whole damn season for some technical director to come down and unload on these clowns cause he saw a commit message that said “jacked a hosts IQ up to 1 million, its fine”.
Speaking of, another issue I have with these clowns is that at multiple moments in the show, they tell their robot pal that something is impossible, such as…
Robot: I want to be smarter
Tech: Well that sucks, you’ll have to talk to a different department
Then, the next scene they’re all in the other department, making the plot advance. They seemingly had the credentials all along without anyone asking them what they’re doing there. That would be like a client asking me to change a graphic and me sitting down at a designers computer and doing it. I’m sure Peter the Illustrator whiz would take issue with that.
One final note about the techs and really all the humans. Throughout the show they all are displayed as being damn unprofessional in their day-to-day activities and yet, nobody seems concerned about getting in trouble? Well not until they have been caught on a camera, which isn’t a stretch to believe that this multi-billion dollar facility would have a camera up everyones ass. I don’t think I could go down to our server closet and start dry humping the firewall without someone noticing, not that I’ve tested it or anything…
We don’t have dev environments in the future?
Along the same lines as the fly by night dev team I mentioned above, one of the major plot points in this show is that the code introduced by Dr. Ford is causing all types of chaos in the park. Let me relate this to a real life situation:
QA: This code that Drew put in, while pretty, is literally causing the site to explode. Drew is really salty though, we shouldn’t do anything about it.
No. Revert to last commit.. Actually, does west world even have a dev environment? I mean, this stuff is dangerous. You think before there is a possible catastrophe like a guest getting gutted, they would check out how things work before pushing to prod? Dr. Ford is testing in production, and while I am blinded by the glare off of his giant brass balls, you don’t build a company with those kind of stunts.
QA: Come to think of it, Drew is a bit insane, how about we remove his access and leave the development to the dev team? At least until he calms down. Why does the CEO have root access anyways?
Seems like a reasonable thing to wonder.
I’m not sure who’s idea it was to give one man total control of the systems in Westworld, but their sysadmin must have an easy job if he just has to ignore literally everything thats going on.
Being self aware doesn't effect bullets
note: I may just be obtuse about this point, feel free to set me straight.
I just don’t get this part at all. At the end of the show the AI’s seemingly take over the park and start killing the real people. The question for me is why do they need to develop sentience for this to take place? Are they all getting revenge now, and Dr. Ford flipped a switch to make bullets = on or something?
Also, what system controls how the guns work, for example if a guest drops his gun and a host picks it up, does it turn into a fake gun now? I wish there was more about this but having the whole show finalize with bulletDamage = ‘true’; was too much for my poor mind to understand. This relates to nobody raising an eyebrow to “minor bug fix, people can die now”.
William spent 30 years trying to get machines to kill him cause he couldn’t break the game?
This is more about my personal thoughts than that of a developer and maybe I missed something really important here. But here is my timeline for this guy in my head:
- William goes to the park, things get a little nuts and he falls for a host
- Host gets captured, William goes looking for her for a pretty long time, like way longer than you would ever want to be in a park. (Oh and he happens to drop a photo way out in the wilderness that suddenly ends up on the hosts farm, but thats for another time.)
- William finds her in World 1 Level 1 and she’s been reset and doesn’t know him anymore and man is he bummed out.
- William decides that this park sucks cause people have god mode on and thinks he can change the programming from inside the game.
Is it just me? Is this coming way out of left field? Williams solution isn’t related to the problem at all. Its like thinking I want a pizza, but since we’re all out I decide that all cats are republicans.
And this whole maze thing. What does he expect to find? A giant red button that says “make things nutty” on it? Usually products don’t have their config files readable to the public but stacking this on top of my other complaints, I can begin to see it.
I know I’m picking some minor points to gripe about here, and 90% of this show was brilliant. It gets my goat when a show that caters to a person like me (32 year old developer) overlooks such everyday safety nets that exist right now and that we all use on a daily basis.
Feel free to explain this show in a way that I can understand if I’m totally off the mark here. You might need a crayon.