Any westworld fans?

Hey everyone! I finished Westworld on Saturday and I have to say I'm impressed.

It was a solid journey through a dystopian future that raised valid and interesting questions about technology and humans; like for instance "Can we create consciousness?". The actors were really good and the overall production was up to the HBO's standard.

 

I liked the conclusion it had and I looked around to see in which book this was based on (usually when something is good on the screen, it's almost always based on a book). Unfortunately there is no Westworld book per se; only the script of the old film (yes this was also on the big screen). 

But there are out there books that have the technology theme and I have compiled an interesting list; I haven't read any of them but some were on my radar even before Westworld spiked my interest on androids. 

 

So here you go: (the list in in no particular order)

 

I, Robot - Isaac Asimov 

The three laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov's trademark.

 

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu

Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him—in fact it may even save his life.

 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick,Robert Zelazny  

  By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can't afford one, companies have built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They've even built humans.

Emigrées to Mars receive androids so sophisticated it's impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government bans them from Earth, but when androids don't want to be identified, they just blend in. Rick Deckard is an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job is to find rogue androids and retire them, but cornered, androids tend to fight back--with deadly results.

Novels By William Gibson, including: Neuromancer, The Difference Engine, Pattern Recognition (novel), Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Virtual Light, Idoru, Bridge Trilogy, All Tomorrow's Parties (novel), Spook Country, Zero History - Hephaestus Books

  The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . .

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employers crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

The Soul Of The Robot - Barrington J. Bayley

  He was unique. Alone in a world that did not understand him, he tested the super powers of his mind and body. More than a machine, but less than a man, he searched restlessly for the truth. Before his quest was done, he had died and been reborn, had fought his way from a grim dungeon to a royal throne. Jasperodus, the only super-robot to have been granted consciousness, must decide whether to share his soul-possessing secrets with the other robots or to betray them to save mankind.

Speak - Louisa Hall

  A thoughtful, poignant novel that explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence — illuminating the very human need for communication, connection, and understanding

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.

A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend's mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps — to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human — shrinking rapidly with today's technological advances — echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

  In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication.

In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years.

 

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami,Alfred Birnbaum

  In this hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel, Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer hurtles into the consciousness of the West. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots - John Markoff

  Robots are poised to transform today's society as completely as the Internet did twenty years ago. Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times science writer John Markoff argues that we must decide to design ourselves into our future, or risk being excluded from it altogether.

In the past decade, Google introduced us to driverless cars; Apple debuted Siri, a personal assistant that we keep in our pockets; and an Internet of Things connected the smaller tasks of everyday life to the farthest reaches of the Web. Robots have become an integral part of society on the battlefield and the road; in business, education, and health care. Cheap sensors and powerful computers will ensure that in the coming years, these robots will act on their own. This new era offers the promise of immensely powerful machines, but it also reframes a question first raised more than half a century ago, when the intelligent machine was born. Will we control these systems, or will they control us?

In Machines of Loving Grace, John Markoff offers a sweeping history of the complicated and evolving relationship between humans and computers. In recent years, the pace of technological change has accelerated dramatically, posing an ethical quandary. If humans delegate decisions to machines, who will be responsible for the consequences? As Markoff chronicles the history of automation, from the birth of the artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation communities in the 1950s and 1960s, to the modern-day brain trusts at Google and Apple in Silicon Valley, and on to the expanding robotics economy around Boston, he traces the different ways developers have addressed this fundamental problem and urges them to carefully consider the consequences of their work. We are on the brink of the next stage of the computer revolution, Markoff argues, and robots will profoundly transform modern life. Yet it remains for us to determine whether this new world will be a utopia. Moreover, it is now incumbent upon the designers of these robots to draw a bright line between what is human and what is machine.

After nearly forty years covering the tech industry, Markoff offers an unmatched perspective on the most drastic technology-driven societal shifts since the introduction of the Internet. Machines of Loving Grace draws on an extensive array of research and interviews to present an eye-opening history of one of the most pressing questions of our time, and urges us to remember that we still have the opportunity to design ourselves into the future—before it's too late.

What about you? Did you guys read any of those? Do you have any suggestions?

How about the show? Have you watched it yet? (If not I highly recommend it!)

Cheers,

~M.