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HBO's Westlworld

“Westworld” shows us the dangers of digitizing humanity

What's the worst outcome of our trust in streamlined technological convenience? Watch this finale and find out

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By MELANIE MCFARLAND, Salon

My mobile device has become very good at guessing my next steps. This didn't bother me much at first since, for the most part, it would remind me that I had an event scheduled on my calendar. A flight, perhaps. But recently its system upped the ante, alerting me that it was time for me to leave for said flight, calculating the time it would take me to get to the airport based on my location.

I did not make that request within my phone's apps. But it assumed I wanted it, or rather Google did; the service has been refining its process of scraping and analyzing user data to make life that much more seamlessly convenient for its users. This includes e-mail, apparently — I recently bought tickets to a movie at a theater that I wasn't familiar with, and when my husband and I pulled up maps to get directions an hour before the movie it already had an idea of where I wanted to go. That's amazing. That's very creepy.

That also may be one version of how the world ends, if we're to believe warnings from the late Stephen Hawking and from our own living breathing version of Lex Luthor, Elon Musk. The latter has made many declarations about the potential evils of artificial intelligence run amok. He's also good friends with Jonathan Nolan, the co-creator of HBO's "Westworld" (and husband to the series other creator, Lisa Joy) and a guy who explored a number of "if/then" scenarios with regard to AI's impact on humanity over many season of CBS's "Person of Interest." In that series, the nascent AI maintains an empathic connection to its human creator, even battling a rival intelligence seeking to control humankind.

Read the full story on Salon.com.

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