Is HBO’s Smash-Hit, ‘Westworld,’ Nodding To Horse Racing’s Robotic Future

Picture this: A plague has killed all the world’s horses. How will the “Sport of Kings” go on? Two words: robot horses. I’m not talking about metal ones with grinding gears inside; I’m talking about actual, realer-than-real, flesh-and-fur horses. You know, the kind you see in Westworld.

The hit HBO series is set in the Wild West, except that it’s not the actual Wild West—it’s a futuristic Wild West-themed park, named, fittingly, Westworld, where the globe’s richest people can live out their cowboy fantasies (think shoot-outs, brothels and fantastical quests). It’s all made possible by the “hosts”—robots virtually indistinguishable from humans—who are there to be the humans’ playthings (unbeknownst to them). But enough about human hosts (Spoiler Alert: They’re more conscious than they’re supposed to be)—I’m interested in the host horses.

It would be pretty nice, having a robot horse. You’d definitely save money on food, and it probably wouldn’t ever need to use the bathroom. If the horse got hurt, you could just repair it, and it would never die, since you could always reactivate it. But what would it be like if horse racing was made up entirely of robot horses? Hmm…

For starters, trainers would certainly become obsolete, replaced by coders. If a horse could be coded to run fast, what’d be the use of exercising it? Jockeys, too, probably wouldn’t be needed, as they would just interrupt the horses’ preprogrammed run. The outcome of a race, then, would become much easier to predict, as the physical state of a horse wouldn’t differ from day to day, effectively putting an end to betting. And it seems the focus of horse racing would shift from the horses themselves to the coders, who would really be the ones competing. And if that were the case, why watch the horses race? Why not watch the coders code? Mind. Blown. Kind of.

Because watching coders code would be terribly boring. I think it’s safe to say, as the administration of Westworld is slowly figuring out in the show, the novelty of lifelike robots isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s as Westworld’s host, Peter Abernathy, says: “These violent delights have violent ends.” Or boring ones.

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