Westworld Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Discuss Science Fact versus Science Fiction

Photo credit: Cole Wilson for Wired
Photo credit: Cole Wilson for Wired

We have more news on the Westworld front, as showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy continue to be in high demand. Yesterday, they attended the Wired Business Conference in New York City. Nolan and Joy spoke with Peter Rubin, Senior Editor, during a panel entitled “How Storytelling Creates the Future” and participated in a fun Q and A session on Facebook Live.

In a discussion about the tendency of science fiction to present a dystopian future, Nolan commented that storytelling allows us to “try out different realities.” It’s a way to explore the possible consequences of our technological evolution. “We’re inventing cautionary tales for ourselves,” Nolan said.

Neither Nolan nor Joy necessarily believe we are headed for a Westworld-type future. They feel Westworld is more of an allegory than a prediction of what’s to come. Joy observed, “We’re leaping into the age of the unfathomable, the time when machines [can do things we can’t].” Shows like Westworld spark discussion of how humanity should handle developments in technology, especially when things don’t always progress as expected.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) probably won’t look like Westworld either. Nolan and Joy believe that rather than facing a robot uprising, we will allow AI technology to take over our lives little by little – it’s already happening with the advent of programs like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. “These technologies don’t have a moral compass yet,” Nolan said. AI only works based on algorithms that feed it information, and since they tend to enforce existing biases, Nolan believes “we’re in a time of artificial ignorance.”

Unfortunately, don’t expect our future to include incredibly good-looking robots like Westworld envisions. “We anthropomorphized what the AI will look like,” Joy explains. “That’s not going to happen. It’s not going to be a beautiful lady or a beautiful man who is going to come and be your overlord.”

After the panel, Rubin played a game of “Future World Problems” with Joy and Nolan. Check out the video below!

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