American Cinematheque Los Angeles, CA


Alexander Thoms

Doctoral Student in Mechanical Engineering, UCLA

Westworld— "Let me tell you about my best friend": A.I. companionship and relationships onscreen

Technology is the AI landscape is moving ahead quickly, but what is happening in the classical robotics space? And how do the two different kinds of technology intersect? Could something like WESTWORLD, where the AI robots wreak havoc, actually happen?

In our interactive session with Alex Thoms from UCLA, we discuss his research areas and past lab experience, specifically looking at the classic robotics and the very precise algorithms being worked on. This differs greatly from the somewhat unreliable and sometimes unpredictable nature of generative AI. Alex currently works in the Sensing & Robotics for Infrastructure (SRI) Lab at UCLA, where the overarching research goal is to better understand and quantify the condition and remaining useful life of civil and mechanical infrastructure systems through the intelligent use of sensors and data. The lab has developed analytical and algorithmic tools as well as ground-based and water-based robots which can enable a wide range of inspection related tasks for civil infrastructure. We will hear the research behind these current studies and Alex’s thoughts on the future of the intersections.

American Cinematheque Los Angeles, CA

Film Synopsis

A robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park.

In the future year of 1983, a high-tech, highly realistic adult amusement park called Delos is populated with lifelike androids that are practically indistinguishable from human beings. For $1,000 per day, guests may indulge in any adventure with the android population of the park, including sexual encounters and even a fight to the death. Two friends (Richard Benjamin, James Brolin) on vacation in the park get more than they bargained for when one of the gun-slinging robot inhabitants (Yul Brynner) begins stalking them, threatening the safety of all the guests. 

About the Speaker

Alexander Thoms received his BASc degree in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada in 2018. He is currently completing his Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. His research interests include sensor fusion and state estimation for robotic inspection, particularly in marine and post-disaster scenarios. His long-term career goals involve developing theory and algorithms for robotic geometric perception while rooting their demonstration in civil engineering applications.