Jay Zalowitz

@jayzalowitz

Westworld Season 2 pulls a cambridge analytica and Silicon Valley seeks “Facial Recognition” a…

This week has the honor of being the first time Hackernoon has gotten to see everything coming out on HBO this weekend. This has granted us a really great set of things:

  1. I am immune to everyone’s spoilers, so I can once again browse reddit.
  2. I have my Sunday evening back, once again, allowing for reddit.
  3. We have had a whole lot of time extra to prep any response to this, and as such have some really cool stuff we get to point out to our 20 Million readers, which is nice.

Without further ado, heres our recaps:

Silicon Valley season 5 episode 5 — “Facial Recognition”:

The gang continues its journey to build “the new internet” and so happens to find itself with an AI focused episode on the exact same week as a Westworld premier, which is just such a heavy coincidence.

At the behest of their investors, Laurie and Monica, the Pied Piper team start interfacing with Eklow labs. In what is clearly a nod to Dr Goertzel and Sophia from Hanson Robotics, such a good job with casting here was had that I actually had to make sure they weren’t being played by their real life inspirations.

During this short arc, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) has to fight with the founder being obnoxiously creepy with a robot and DDOSing his network. For a story arc about A.I. it really only sort of had a light brushing on it. We considered asking the team at Replika about it (disclosure, they are friends of the publication) as they are clearly the most advanced comparison we have access to, but theres nothing exactly “there” on the main plot line.

Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist, Hanson Robotics, with Sophia the Robot, left, and Han the Robot — Photo by Cody Glenn / RISE / Sportsfile

The more fun and frankly interesting chain of events happens around Richard and Jared’s appearance on Bloomberg Technology with Emily Chang. Newly minted as a COO of peid piper Jared appears with Richard to answer questions, and nails it when comparing Pied Piper to humanities effect about manure. (For a really interesting read, see https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/Great-Horse-Manure-Crisis-of-1894/)

This sets off a series of events that lead to Jared to get scheduled for an interview with Adrian Grenier and due to constant prodding by his co-workers, a massive cosmetic overreaction (to his nose) by Jared.

Courtesy HBO

Naturally, we asked Adrian if he was actually working on an “Edutainment web series on the tech industry,” and the answer to that is no, but we did stumble on something cool that he has going on, and if you’ll indulge us, we sort of want to stop and tell you about it. You see David and I (along with the rest of those that help at AMI) have a real dedication to try and make the world more awesome, we’ve done some fun things in the past like dedicating our sites to fundraising for charities. We are going to be doing that again this week with a Going Green initiative, which you will be hearing about really soon.

The Lonely Whale, an incubator for courageous ideas that drive impactful market-based change on behalf of our ocean. They are facilitating the creation of innovative ideas that push the boundary on current trends in technology, media and advocacy that positively impact the health of our ocean. Some of you may know that Adrian has been working on preventing plastic waste hitting the ocean(#StopSucking), and part of that work has been towards helping create an incubator for the type of people who read us to be able to come in and try to save the planet. For those of you who are interested in applying we suggest going to their get in touch page. For those of you more financially inclined, they are having a gala in SF on the 28th, I’d love it if you all join us in going.

On to the much more seriousness of the Westworld premier:

Season 2 of Westworld takes a turn from the fully cerebral and layered approach of the first season and has begun a morph into what I would describe as a high tech game of thrones combined with a deadpool-esque level of 4th wall appropriateness. I highly enjoyed the first episode of this season, and would say its one of the best.

(MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD)

The interview during the SF premier of Westworld.

I wont try to ruin who is going to live or die, because lets be honest, thats like 90% of the fun of watching a HBO series. This episode has a reveal of the biggest seemingly future plot point: Delos has been harvesting the DNA and actions of every park visitor (to all of its parks, as in theres multiple, which is yet another set up for yet another twist.)

To put in perspective how big this might be, when @karaswisher let us ask a question to the actors at the premier, we brought up how their characters and they might be thinking about these actions especially with respect to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that happened to facebook. Not even letting the question get to the actors, she asked me what I thought, which is just about the most unusual thing Ive seen in that sort of Q&A. Basically, this is a big plot point, and I assume /r/westworld is going to have a field-day on this for the next couple of weeks.

Theres a heck of a lot of really good character development, and frankly a lot of really subtile world building, even a fair amount of male nudity, which is a specific goal of the producers. (https://pagesix.com/2018/04/20/how-westworld-creators-aim-to-make-nudity-equal-among-men-and-women/)

Once again, we highly suggest watching, and look forward to your comments once it premiers.

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