The present work is about a science fiction TV series named Westworld (HBO: 2016-) that leads us to a world in which robotics has advanced to make androids indistinguishable from humans. These robots are hosts in a kind of amusement park, located in the Grand Canyon (Colorado) and set as if it were Wild West. Human guests come to it to live all kinds of experiences.
The advanced robot programming presents a predefined set of narratives that are connected with each other, with the ability to interact with the visitors without being us able to distinguish them from humans, except for one point. For the human safety, the hosts can´t harm any kind of living form, which allows the visitors an almost unlimited freedom to participate in any activity they wish, with no life-threatening consequences.
The construction of these androids is governed by the possibility of establishing ultimate control over them, which is hidden from robots in an attempt to better emulate their humanity. Its software includes the ignorance of having being programmed as androids, thus, the robots act responding to different situations sustained by the belief in their autonomy to decide the course of their actions. Thereby, they live in a loop of restarts that occur after their memory has being erased, each time they are disconnected for having serious damages that causes their deaths.
The series begins with the exhaustive scrutiny of the robot operation after a routine update in programming of the hosts, due to the fact that little unusual behavioral deviations are observed. The problems raised are the appearance of rêveries or reminiscences, observed as the effects on their actions of unknown memories.
The word robot, according to Wikipedia, comes to the Czech word robota, which means servitude, forced labor or slavery, especially the so-called rented workers who lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1848. First point of reference, the slave and its correlate: alienation.
In Spain, the fictional name of the original movie, on which the series is based, serves as a pretext to get even closer to the subject of this writing: Metal Souls is the conjunction of words of inaccurate but true interpretation, with which the series is known, signifying something of the plot knot that is absent in the original name.
Lacan says that “the soul could not be spoken except on the basis of what allows a being – speaking being, to call it by its name – to bear what is intolerable in its world, which assumes that the soul is foreign to it, in other words, phantasmatic.” (Lacan, 1972-1973, p 84) Then, the soul as phantasmatic would be what enables us to tolerate the real. Therefore, we could homologate metal souls to the phantasmatic reality that acts as a screen for those synthetic beings, covering them with a plot unfolded from the implantation of an unknown scene.
Their position in the scene is established within the scene that they unknowingly mount, offering themselves as the object of Other jouissance.
Here, for each robot, as in the neurosis, the fantasy fulfills the function of anchorage-defense-window respect to the real, articulates a meaning, and allows each one, one by one, to assemble their frame of reality. The implicit script effect that orders their sayings and beliefs (their faith) gives consistency to these beings whose psychic reality veils the most real of the cause, from the fantasy of the subject that is revealed to the viewer of the series.
A phrase enunciated by Lacan, enables us to ask ourselves the logical consequences of the axiom of the fantasy in the constitution of a robotic body as a condition of possible jouissance:
(…) this place of the Other is not to be taken anywhere other than in the body, which is not intersubjectivity, but scars on the body, integumentals, peduncles that plug into its holes to serve as outlets, ancient and technical devices that gnaw at it.
Why not think of a synthetic body that inhabits a narrative sustained from a singular, not anonymous desire, that of the creator? That creator is the one who implants the phantasmatic scene that will serve as an answer to the question about the Other’s desire. This axiomatic comes from the Other, such as the neurotic’s belief, who advances in that sense in order to make it exist.
The fantasy, undoubtedly, intervenes in these daydreams, but it is rather like the invisible ink of a scene script that is written in multiple versions, of an original scene that must be constructed rather than reproduced in memory. (Bassols 2014 )
This is the original scene in which the neurotic believes, and which the analysis will deconsist. The creator’s ambition is, thus, the same, that the robot finds, after its programming, its own voice speaking to it. As Lacan says:
“How is it that any of us can help feeling that the words on which we depend are in some sense imposed upon us? […] Rather, the question is why a normal man, a man said to be normal, doesn’t notice that speech is a parasite […] that speech is a form of cancer that afflicts the human being?” (1975-1976, p. 78)
It is a stake here, the question of the previous time necessary in the constitution of fantasy as a veil to talk about neurosis. As they are robots, the question could be left on hold.