In an interview with Keith Nelson at Digital Trends, Jeffrey Wright discusses the ubiquity of technology in our world, and how 'Westworld' (Wright plays Bernard) illustrates this theme.
Great AI sci-fi ('Artificial Intelligence', 'Blade Runner', et. al) encourages us to explore themes of what it means to be human. These stories also demonstrate — and Wright's interview illuminates this — how we, as people, change when technology is an increasing part of our everyday lives.
While technology has obvious benefits for our health and convenience, questions of privacy and security (vis-à-vis the government), monetization of our data (by private companies and their vendors), and a decrease in communal interaction remain. As Wright notes,
"..'Westworld' is speaking to the ways in which technology is becoming us and we are becoming technology, and that may be dystopian, [or] it may not be, but that’s the reality now."
Great fiction often forces us to turn inward to examine our own actuality, and see where we can do better. Wright continues on how viewers can relate to the show, and see their own human story through those of the "hosts":
"[W]e’re all kind of wrestling with this relationship with our technology, and at the same time, the metaphor of these hosts coming into being, trying to discover who they are, where they are, trying to discover a level of consciousness or new level of consciousness, trying to free themselves from a routine that is not of their making, is a metaphor that we all can insert ourselves into. The show is futuristic sci-fi, [but] it’s also filled with these human spaces — even synthetic human spaces — that are compelling for an audience."
"Dystopian" stories have often turned out to be more pessimistic than reality, and human kind always has a way of moving forward. But an examination and questioning of our practices, particularly with technology, is always a good thing. And, at the very least, it sure makes for a good story.
I am excited for what season two has in store.