Reece Nathan Russo

The Great Russo, Sorcerer Supreem

P-zombies in Media: Westworld


The fact that Ford anticipated what Maeve would do and factored it into his plan wouldn't change the fact. Westworld's answer to the question of Philosophical Zombie seems to be the presence or absence of meta-cognition - the awareness of your own awareness.


The host brains are programmed to feel - and the physical responses like increase in body temperature, pupilary response, increased adrenaline etc. The traditional answer involves existence of a soul or spirit - something "special" that allows you to be sentient and to feel. The question is pretty simple - suppose there is a creature that behaves exactly like a conscious entity would. And Maeve may have taken a few shortcuts - like externally manipulating her core code to boost her awareness of them. Their journeys might have started differently as well - Maeve was set on her path by Ford making a change to her code. So, did Maeve become fully conscious or not? Like Maeve talking about her own core code - how its like seeing 2 minds arguing with each other. But being aware of that programming and understanding it is the final step one has to take in order to be fully conscious. In Westworld, things like your sensations, cognition and emotions are all neurological processes that can be replicated and programmed. So, in the end, was Maeve fully self-aware or not? The awareness of your own thought-processes, memories, emotions, sensations. You seem to have missed something big about the show - hosts don't simply become conscious with just 1 memory or 1 decision. She becomes conscious at the memory of her daughter, her cornerstone, when she sees the mother and daughter on the train. We never saw her coming face to face with her "inner Maeve".


I know that the popular view currently is that she didn't and Ford was manipulating her the whole time. I see no reason why a machine will never feel empathy - especially if its programmed to do so. That is the level of self-awareness hosts are ultimately expected to reach - being fully aware of their own code. Maeve was programmed to leave.


Getting back to Maeve - we didn't see her go onto this journey. One of the philosophical concepts that weren't name-checked on the show - and yet, imo, is extremely relevant - is that of philosophical zombie. But that happens to be programmed behavior - it didn't actually feel any pain. But in the end, they both ended up in the same place - across the river and fully self-aware.