I admit it, I’m not one of those who eagerly watches the latest television series no matter how much deserved praise it receives.
In fact, whenever I’ve summoned enough patience to sit down to watch one of them, it coincided with the end of its broadcast. Most times, it’s with the long-awaited last chapter when the switch in my mind is activated… “I should watch the entire series, at least I’d understand those absurd jokes my friends make about that Heisenberg guy”… And I suspect that, in a way, this has saved me from years of nervousness and sleepless nights before each new chapter.
With Christopher Nolan at the helm, Westworld has been an exception in this respect and had me every week of the last three months of 2016 eagerly awaiting the adventures of such a peculiar Theme Park and its no less strange inhabitants… and visitors! I remember an original screening of the film Westworld by Michael Crichton and with Yul Brynner in the role of cowboy, in one of those summer cinemas in the mid-70s, but this one is a very different scenario. To give you some background, imagine the possibility of jumping through a cinema screen to experience one of those marvellous westerns that made us dream as children, “cowboy” films as we called them. This time it’s not about dividing the world between “goodies” and “baddies”, handing out wooden guns and tomahawks and running down the stairs to the school playground like savages… No, here everything is real. And, believe it or not, without consequences.
We are in Westworld and you can do whatever you want, that’s what it’s about. This includes, of course, murder (“considered as one of the fine arts”, Thomas de Quincey would add with sarcasm). No ethical or moral considerations to burden your conscience no matter how savage your acts on this path towards “learning about yourself”. The inhabitants of this world and the storylines you will interact with, dear visitor, have been created by an all-powerful entity with the sole objective of helping you to live out your fantasies… and also your nightmares; sometimes there is a short distance between both options. At the end of the day, we’re talking about robots… A beautiful assembly of gears, microchips and Electronic Circuits under a warm and harmonious illusion of human flesh. Soulless creations… or at least that’s what the Park’s publicity explained.
It’s not at all my intention to go into a deep analysis of the series. However, the proposal is fascinating… not only because it presents us with a possible nearby future or because it blurs the lines between Ethics and Technology, but because of the consequences that take us a step further.
We are currently witnessing the growing importance of everything related to Ethics in Supply Chain Management and the solutions adopted in this global market (Supply Chain Solutions). Large or small organisations must embrace the laws that govern Ethics in the Supply Chain and make sure that their own commercial practices are aligned with it and with the Mission, Vision and Values of these practices. Concerns about these Ethics throughout the supply chain (including fair labour conditions and no discrimination, hygiene, environmental and safety awareness, compliance with the legislation in force in the different countries with productive bases or services and materials suppliers) condition the day-to-day of our organisations. Even large multinationals such as Coca-Cola have their own Code of Business Conduct and the same ethical conduct expectations and requirements for both its suppliers and its employees. We are, in short, in a period of necessary transparency and scrupulous ethics in all the aspects that support both the Supply Chain and Marketing itself (as a process that promotes value in society).
And it is here where Westworld brazenly shows its most disturbing aspect… it is no longer about whether we should consider its inhabitants, whom we see suffering, crying, laughing, feeling emotions, loving or dying a thousand times throughout the span of a human’s life, as just artificial creations or as possible entities with something very similar to a human soul, no… what’s really frightening is everything behind the scenes. This perfect production machinery with its countless engineers, biologists, geneticists, researchers, programmers and expert analysts from all branches of Science and the Market, dedicated to offering the customer the most exciting and risky storylines and that perfect illusion of reality, and with it the promise of living their most intimate fantasies… without stopping to think, not even for a second, about the ethics of their small contribution to the great Project. Without questioning the nightmares and suffering along the way nor their unpredictable consequences.
It’s hard to explain this feeling of melancholy sadness after witnessing the development and the end of the first season of the series. At least the great Chaplin, in his crushing Modern Times (1936), left us some room for tenderness and humour when faced with the dehumanisation of Supply Chains during the tough period of the Great Depression… visitors to Westworld will find none of that, but come in… come in please, be welcome.
Watch it to see what must be avoided.
- Maeve: “I see you’ve already met your makers.”
- Armistice: “They don’t look like gods.”