Those robot cars that keep killing people “accidentally” have a lot to learn.
Or so a conspiracy theorist worried about the rise of sentient technology might surmise. Learn to make the accidents look more like real, honest-to-goodness errors in judgment on the part of a “learning technology,” as such things are often called.
Those things like the Alexas and Siris of the world are supposed to gather information about our behavior and anticipate our needs, or gadgets like the Nest thermostat, apps like Pandora and Spotify — if we like that song, we must like this next one, right? Even Tivo and Amazon suggest similar products based on past selections and purchases.
We like it, right? Convenience at our every turn, even if we didn’t ask for it.
Only you did ask her — er, it — because that’s how these things start. Download the app, install the device, answer a few questions, and off it goes, collecting the minutiae of your life: where you shop, what you buy, what sports/shows/channels/news you watch, what books you download, what songs you like. Add this to where, how and with whom you live, and the collective knowledge of all the apps and devices in our homes is worth billions to advertisers — or whoever is willing to pay for it, and legally sell it, hence Facebook’s current troubles.
But back to the robot cars. On the one hand, the idea of technology that learns from past mistakes is a fascinating frontier. On the other hand, isn’t that one of the big fears of artificial intelligence, that they will learn our weaknesses and overtake us all?
In the first season of HBO’s “Westworld,” we saw the extent to which man could manipulate machine for man’s own fantasy, no matter how depraved or lethal. The beauty was, the machines didn’t remember, so the fantasies could be repeated, tweaked, or changed all together, and the machine could be reprogrammed at the whim of its creator.
The man in charge, Dr. Richard Ford, played by Anthony Hopkins in all his charismatically creepy evil genius of Hannibal Lechter, created Westworld as an adult theme park of sorts, but some of its human visitors became a little curious about what was happening behind the scenery. Likewise, the androids became a little too aware of their situations. Come season two, which begins Sunday, the artificially intelligent are not so artificial, and they’re looking for answers. It’s a gunfight at this faux Western town.
The name isn’t insignificant; the West has always stood for a frontier to be explored — or exploited, depending on your perspective. The cast here includes Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden and more. That’s one Oscar winner (Hopkins) and several nominations (Hopkins and Harris), though SPOILER ALERT! Hopkins’ Ford is no longer running the show — did we mention the androids are in charge?)
This plot is similar to one taken in AMC’s “Humans,” which integrates human-like androids into the living world. The third season begins June 5.
After a year between its inaugural season in 2016, “Westworld” is back at 8 p.m. Sunday on HBO.
Homegrown royalty: CBS News takes an inside look at Prince Harry’s future wife in Friday’s “Meghan Markle: American Princess.” But don’t confuse this hour-long special, that talks about the California-born divorced actress and includes interviews with her sorority sisters, with “Meghan Markle: An American Princess,” the two-hour documentary set to air on Fox May 11 (the wedding is May 19); this one includes an interview with Markle’s half-sister, Samantha, and includes commentary by Piers Morgan. It’s not the first time an American has married royalty; actress Grace Kelly married Monaco’s Prince Rainier, and King Edward VIII gave up the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American. But Markle will be the first American to marry into the line of succession; though Harry is far down the list, he’s still on it. Regardless, learn more about the actress from USA’s “Suits” and her romance with royalty at 9 p.m. Friday on Ch. 3.
Sing along with James: James Corden brings his “Late Late Show” to non-night owls once again with “The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2018,” airing Monday. This year’s special includes “Crosswalk the Musical,” plenty of celebrity guests, and more. Tune in at 9 p.m. Monday on Ch. 3.
Seeing triple-triple: Three shows have their third-season debuts this week, starting with AMC’s “Into the Badlands,” 9 p.m. Sunday; “Code Black” checks in for round three at 9 p.m. Wednesday on Ch. 3; and “Quantico” solves a third global crisis beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday on Ch. 27.