The New York Times

It's Westworld. What's Wrong With Cruelty to Robots?

THE MAKERS OF THE HBO SERIES HAVE PRODUCED A POWERFUL WORK OF PHILOSOPHY.

Suppose we had robots perfectly identical to men, women and children and we were permitted by law to interact with them in any way we pleased. How would you treat them?

That is the premise of “Westworld,” the popular HBO series that opened its second season Sunday night. And, plot twists of Season 2 aside, it raises a fundamental ethical question we humans in the not-so-distant future are likely to face.

Based on the 1973 film, “Westworld” depicts a futuristic playground modeled after the Wild West, where the characters — bartenders, prostitutes, sheriffs, bandits — are robotic “hosts,” programmed to interact as naturally as possible with their human guests. These intelligent machines look and act exactly like

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