The center of the mythos of “Westworld” is the technology of humanoid robots that look like human beings and, in a limited way according to their programming, behave like people. Leaving aside the theme of teasing something resembling consciousness from these animated theme park hosts, Screener TV asked Dr. Mary Ellen Foster, a Lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, how far away we are from having robots like the ones on the TV show.

The answer is divided into two parts, as it turns out.

In the hardware area, we’re almost there. The Japanese have made great strides in creating humanoid machines that look and feel like human beings.

One of the first applications of such human-like robots will be sexual companions, with all the functionality that goes with that, programmed, as Commander Data said in an early episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” in “multiple techniques.”

But where it comes to software, the code that allows humanoid robots to act, speak, and interact as if they were people, we’ve got ways to go. Just learning how to communicate in a meaningful way is a monumental problem.

In short, Dr. Foster thinks we can have something like Westworld the theme park in another hundred years.

“Westworld” is not the first show to examine the idea of artificial beings struggling to achieve human consciousness. “Battlestar Galactica,” both the 1970s and 21st Century series, depicted an artificial race known as the Cylons who rose in revolt and killed much of the human race, chasing the remnants across the galaxy to that “shining planet known as Earth.” The before mentioned Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” spent most of the series learning to be more human, but instead of wanting to kill his flesh and blood crewmates he grew to appreciate them even more.

Would we even want to build a “Westworld” when the technology is available? Virtual reality technology may make a physical place like theme park unnecessary. Our descendants may go to places like Westworld, but it will be in the form of a computer system, with an environment and experiences pumped directly into our brains.

No robots will be necessary.

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