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james_sb



Joined: 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 47
Location: Dublin, Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightice wrote:

There are already quite reliable protectors against EMP. Do you think that military devices fail just because of some electromagnetic disturbance? Even some HiFi equipement has been designed to survive such things. Don't try to come up with an überweapon that would ensure human superiority over machine - such thing doesn't exist and never will. Any trick can be countered with another trick. There is no perfect strategy that always wins.


Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest an actual weapon, just referencing one mentioned in sci-fi. [Matrix]
Obviously no perfect strategy, but weaponary does give the advantage.

Lightice wrote:

Rather, I wonder, what is the big idea of imagining that there will inevitably be a conflict between man and machine? Yes, humans are naturally conflict-prone, but what makes you think that we would ever form an united front against the other power, in the first place? Although it's propably too much to hope for, that wars would end after the birth of sentient AIs, it is far more likely, that these future wars will have both humans and machines on both sides. Also, the very border between human and machine will eventually thin into nothingness. Cybernetic technology, mind-imprints, as well as biological machines will most likely make it impossible to tell, in what form a particular sentient being was originally born.


Rather it's the plan for the worst, and all surprises are pleasent ones. I have no idea if a sentient A.I. would choose to rid their world of Humans. But we discuss this possibility because it's one of the more interesting ones, in preparing for a possible future. Of course there's many other possibilities.

Lightice wrote:

An AI that is actually sentient will already have processing speed equal or superior to the human brain. Most likely latter, since the processing speed alone doesn't create sentience.

You shouldn't think of sentient machines as clunky robots or ENIAC-lookalikes, but as new kind of life, that will intersect with our own. We've held symbiotic relationship with our technology for almost entire existance of our species. I don't see, why it couldn't continue after it has become aware of itself.


Fear. That's mostly why. People are always afraid of what's different. And it makes for good Sci-fi. The sndriod in Aliens might be a good reference for what your trying to say above.
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RealFact#9



Joined: 02 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AlphonseVanWorden, I'm glad you responded and did in the way you did. Showed I probably should have come a little more detailed.

Quote:
How does power- and relationships involving domination must involve power- work in the present capitalist system


To take capitalism to the most basic sense, it's the idea of private ownership. But with private ownership comes competition. Every producer wants as many consumers as they can get. So that makes me think of pitting ourselves against each other rather than a coexistence and harmonizing. You can also see it as God versus the Devil in contrast to the Yin and Yang symbol.

So regardless of what type of capitalism I was speaking of (which in this case I was going for the most simplest of terms), there's this idea of "you're either with us or against us" that is taught to us from out the womb to take to the tomb and pass it to the next.

We can also see it in certain forms of entertainment, like sports for example. I know sports are pretty harmless. I played high school basketball for 3 years and played in a lot of tournaments and such. But there's still this idea of a winner and a loser. Being champions of a league.

We don't even have to necessarily have to look at capitalism alone. You've got monarchies, hierarchies, fascism. Even EVOLUTION. All these ideas that humans have created involve some type of "being on top of the food chain" type of ideals.

And so when we reproduce, we give our beings into these new life forms. Now of course these sentient A.I.'s would pick up on good qualities as well. But the truth is a hard road to follow. But I guess yo ucan say I was trying to get at somthing deeper than just capitalism. That humans (at least a mojority as of right now) are dominant minded. And for us to give birth to another sentient being, we'd pass along that trait.


As for my idea about shooting A.I. into space. I didn't mean that as a defense mechanism. I meant that in the context of the puppetmaster's idea of expanding to a higher conciousness. As you know, there are those who believe that we were put here by aliens and that they're the ones responsible for things like the pyramids at Giza. They then visit us and watch what we do. So what if instead of that being our history, it would be a preminission. We'd create these sentient beings setting up the basics for them to survive to then shoot them off to another planet and observe their actions. See if in some time they try and contact other life forms etc. We'd become like "gods" and attaint a higher conciousness or awareness.
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Lightice



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

james_sb wrote:

But we discuss this possibility because it's one of the more interesting ones, in preparing for a possible future.


I find it the most boring concievable scenario and certainly one that has been severely overused. It relies on black and white thinking in which you are either one of us, or against us. The very possibility that all the humans, or even all the machines would choose a single side is downright rediculous, in the historical viewpoint.
A more believable worst case scenario is a control freak society, in which everything up to the very minds of the citizens is constantly monitored and no freedom of choice or taught, much less that of speech, can be said to exist. I consider this a far more serious threat to the world than any war and the most dangerous pitfall of future technology.

Quote:
Fear. That's mostly why. People are always afraid of what's different.


Yes, indeed. Socrates himself said (according to Plato) that writing is dangerous thing which robs the people ability to think for themselves. More recently cinema, television and computers have been accused of similar traits. People fear and distrust new things at first, then become accustomed to them and then no longer can live without them. The transhuman and posthuman evolution are only new steps in the long history of the symbiotic relationship of humanity and it's technology.

Quote:
And it makes for good Sci-fi.


Make that "it did make for good sci-fi". Science fiction should be about new ideas and a simple two sided conflict between man and machine has reached the end of it's road. I actually have a rough idea about a novel, which would concencrate on such a conflict and observe it to break up into far more complex mess, in which the sides become more and more blurred. I hope I actually manage to get it written, one day in good enough manner to get it published.

RealFact#9 wrote:
As for my idea about shooting A.I. into space. I didn't mean that as a defense mechanism. I meant that in the context of the puppetmaster's idea of expanding to a higher conciousness. As you know, there are those who believe that we were put here by aliens and that they're the ones responsible for things like the pyramids at Giza. They then visit us and watch what we do. So what if instead of that being our history, it would be a preminission. We'd create these sentient beings setting up the basics for them to survive to then shoot them off to another planet and observe their actions. See if in some time they try and contact other life forms etc. We'd become like "gods" and attaint a higher conciousness or awareness.


Sending AIs into space doesn't sound very meaningful concept, as it wouldn't benefit us in any way. To an immortal synthetic lifeform the vast distances of space might not mean anything, but to an unmodified human any kind of accurate observation over such distances would be next to impossible. It wouldn't make us any kind of "gods", but them. In any case, since the AI has first to be created, it must be born and educated here, where the humans are. Beings that aren't bothered by hostile conditions of void and radiation, or by the distances of lightyears will undoubtedly find the attractions of space on their own, as soon as their interest in this planet have faded.
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightice wrote:
Quote:
You make very good points, but your posts are tad long and can get a bit tedious to read. You could concencrate on single point at the time - it would be easier to make replies, that way.


All I can say in my defense is that when I post, I'm responding to one or two points someone else has made, and that I'm looking for clarification, context, and ways the principles could be applied to a specific situation, hypothetical or real. If my methodology- my rhetoric- seems tedious, I apologize. But I think that's an aesthetic difference. I'm comfortable with my style of rhetoric, and I think it's useful.

If you find my posts tedious or boring in spots, that's cool. Ignore them, or skim them till you find something interesting.

I appreciate the suggestion, though.

That being said, I'm curious about your reactions to the following, and about reactions other folks might have.

Quote:
...I've avoided using them directly, since the Singularity is so vague concept, that it's difficult to use it as an argument and the Law of Accelerating Returns only refers to the computer speeds, which in themselves only add potential - machine-power alone doesn't create a sentient construct.


Regarding the Singularity and the Law of Accelerating Returns: Lightice, I figured you'd be familiar with the terms; I picked up on your use of the concepts in your posts here and in other threads.

Are we speaking only of sentient constructs? I believe the discussion involves the relationship between human beings and such a construct. It seems that a lot of this dialogue about artificial intelligences and human beings presupposes that there's an essential humanity in opposition to any sort of identity that a construct would have, and that the construct would have a similar kind of essence to humans, or would be so radically different that it would do harm to humans, or would just be something different, and we'd still be humans, and not a lot of things about us would change.

Some would argue that our humanity is itself a construct, a concept invented by our species with a meaning that changes over time.

About the Technological Singularity, it is a vague term, but I think that's part of its usefulness. This "Rapture of the nerds" (Scottish science fiction authors Charles Stross and Ken MacLeod have used this phrase to describe the Singularity) presupposes a radical paradigm shift brought about by technological advances and a significant reworking of what it means to be human, if not the end of the category "human". I think it's the sort of thing at the heart of the GitS franchise and its permutations.

And I'd take issue with your claim that "since the Singularity is such a vague concept, it's difficult to use it as an argument". For one thing, we don't have to use the term or concept as an argument. We can describe roughly what folks think the Singularity is, and look at the thing with reference to GitS and other science fiction texts, or commit thought-experiments of our own.

If we were discussing love, or God, or karma, or whatnot, we'd have to discuss how people view these things, how the ideas about these things function. (Being in love, or experiencing God, or reflecting upon karma are different things from discussing love, God, or karma. But one can discuss those things, provided that one doesn't confuse the discussions with the things. "The Tao which can be spoken of is not the true Tao.") I'm not sure we'd have to start with the concepts as arguments in order to discuss them.

Mathematician Vernor Vinge described the Singularity as "a change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth." Elsewhere, we find it described as a point beyond which current types of prediction fail, as an intellectual event horizon, the point beyond which nothing can be observed.

Regarding the Law of Accelerating Returns: I believe you're thinking of Moore's Law or maybe Kryder's Law, both of which address the matter of processing rates. I was thinking of Kurzweil's 2001 essay, which built upon both Moore and Kryder, and extended the discussion to evolution and social development. (It's my understanding that folks often refer to Moore's Law as the Law of Accelerating Returns, but Kurzweil- who does A.I. research- is thinking in larger terms than Moore.)

Kurzweil's essay on the Law of Accelerating Returns includes the following points (sorry the quotations run so long, Lightice, but I think the difference between Kurzweil's position and your comments on computer speeds is important):

"-Evolution applies positive feedback in that the more capable methods resulting from one stage of evolutionary progress are used to create the next stage.
-As a result, the rate of progress of an evolutionary process increases exponentially over time. Over time, the 'order' of the information embedded in the evolutionary process (i.e., the measure of how well the information fits a purpose, which in evolution is survival) increases.
-A correlate of the above observation is that the 'returns' of an evolutionary process (e.g., the speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall 'power' of a process) increase exponentially over time...
-In another positive feedback loop, as a particular evolutionary process (e.g., computation) becomes more effective (e.g., cost effective), greater resources are deployed toward the further progress of that process. This results in a second level of exponential growth (i.e., the rate of exponential growth itself grows exponentially).
-Biological evolution is one such evolutionary process.
-Technological evolution is another such evolutionary process. Indeed, the emergence of the first technology creating species resulted in the new evolutionary process of technology. Therefore, technological evolution is an outgrowth of--and a continuation of--biological evolution.
-A specific paradigm (a method or approach to solving a problem, e.g., shrinking transistors on an integrated circuit as an approach to making more powerful computers) provides exponential growth until the method exhausts its potential. When this happens, a paradigm shift (i.e., a fundamental change in the approach) occurs, which enables exponential growth to continue."
http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1

I'd propose that, in much of the GitS franchise, the Technological Singularity has occurred (or the rapid acceleration towards that point has put the world on the cusp, at the event horizon) and is ongoing, but the majority of characters can't describe it in terms other than myth, their (and our) ideas of humanity, and reflection/copying/simulation.

In other words, in Shirow's fictional universe, the Law of Accelerating Averages has produced a world in which the Technological Singularity has arrived, or is far closer than it is in the "real world."

What others have described as "ennui" on the part of the franchise's characters might more accurately be described as a muted anxiety or existential angst or what Alvin Toffler once called "future shock".

Let's consider the first film.

The Major's body was created by the State. In many ways, she is a creature of the State. If she decides to quit Section 9, she won't have the same body- her shell is the property of Section 9, and by extension it's government property- and her memories will be wiped. (This is explicitly stated in the movie.) She wonders if her memories are her own. If they can be erased from her mind, could they've been planted there, in the same way that the garbage collector's memories were planted by the Puppet Master? To have one's identity tied to an organization that owns one's memories and one's body- that's a pretty tough thing.

Science fiction author and critic Samuel Delany has noted that while science fiction has a history rich in strong female characters, those characters often work for a male (a father-figure), a state, or a corporation. Sometimes, the character is a mercenary, but the same principles applies; her body and unique skills are used by forces external to herself and usually codified in terms of gender, and her direct superior is male.

(There are exceptions, but some of the exceptions simply substitute women for men. Truly gynocentric or feminist reworkings of systems are rare within the genre.)

When the Major merges with Project 2501, she becomes something radically Other. Unlike the female Kusanagi, the A.I. isn't truly male or female. In the first film, as in the manga, the Puppet Master suggests that the Major join with it and become a mother-figure/wife, that the composite of their essences will generate offspring, i.e. something "new".

(Whether we view Project 2501 as an artificial intelligence in the purest sense of the term or as "a lifeform spontaneously created on the sea of information" isn't particularly relevant to this discussion. As in the manga, the Puppeteer was one thing but became something else. It was "a program designed for self-preservation" at some point. Now it sees itself as a "lifeform".)

Oshii emphasizes that Project 2501 was, at one point, "state property" and that this reflects- mirrors- the Major's condition. It was developed for the government. She is an operative of the state whose bodies and memories are owned by the state.

Brian Ruh has suggested the following in his study of Oshii's films: "Kusanagi, while she may in a sense be the 'mother' to the new being she becomes, does not take up the standard social role of the mother in society...Oshii... shows Kusanagi as liberated from dualistic roles of man/machine and mind/body." Ruh relates this liberation from binary systems (man/machine, mind/body, male/female) to the idea of the Virgin Birth in Christian belief and to Shinto notions of gods possessing virgins and generating offspring; he suggests that the subversive value lies in the breaking of limits, of gender lines. According to Ruh, the Major has already crossed certain lines that are taken for granted in Japanese tradition: "[T]here is a strong Shinto-based taboo against scarring the body in any way; Kusanagi's cyborg body is nothing if not altered and scarred." Similarly, Ruh reads the reference to menstruation (the Major's joke about her period causing static) as related to Japanese cultural taboos involving menstruation, blood, and birth. The film, as interpreted by Ruh, references taboos and boundaries, and generates a resolution that undermines those boundaries.

Kusanagi becomes something Other; strictly speaking, she's herself, and her female experiences remain with her, but she's also something more than female, more than human, by the film's end. (She's KusanagiPlus.) By merging with the A.I., she gives birth to a new Self, in a manner of speaking.

I'll add that the alternatives to being "reborn" in this fashion would've been Kusanagi's continued service to the State or a life without her accumulated memories. But the "rebirth" can only be described in human terms, i.e. with references to union, birth, etc. Those are terms that a human can understand, even if the terms don't completely describe the experience or its outcome.

It's a matter of talking around the change, of describing the indescribable, of naming the unnameable. Metaphor, analogy, image. A way of mapping the territory.

A way of talking about the Singularity, about what lies beyond the event horizon.

In short, the Singularity- or something right on its cusp- allows her to transcend her "merely" human and biological self (even though her body is largely technological) and to become something more (and different) than she was. But the conditions for the change are predicated on a shift from biological to technological. Her cyborg body "represents" a human body. When she leaves that body, she becomes something more complicated than either the biological or technological-referencing-the-biological can accurately describe.

What she becomes is described and discussed by humans and cyborgs at various points in the manga and films, but it's never defined, as it's something more complex than human understanding can assign a fixed meaning to. At best, it provides humans with a mirror, something they can gaze into while pondering their own condition.

In terms of true knowledge, it's beyond the event horizon.

In Innocence, Batou's reactions to Kim, to the dolls, to his own cybernetic body, and even to the Major demonstrate a related but different kind of anxiety. If the first film was about the Major liberating herself, transcending the system and becoming something Other, the second film addresses the concerns of those who want to remain human while living in a world that calls into question the nature of that category.

In Man-Machine Interface, the esper Tamaki Tamai describes what she's seeing by referencing imagery from Shinto beliefs, and refers to "Those-Who-Are-Complex." Other characters allude to demons, gods, spirits. But Shirow comments in the text: "Although the story seems very Shinto-ish here, remember...it isn't Shinto." And one of the characters says of artificial intelligence's impact, "It could occur at a variety of levels, with impacts ranging from low to high, and include culture, the environment, politics, science and technology... You would be confronting yourself."

Note that the world of GitS "mirrors" our world, and that it presupposes changes that haven't and may not occur, thereby foregrounding the effects and meaning of technological change.

We shouldn't take any of the (human/cyborg) characters' interpretations of artificial intelligence at face value. Batou in the second film, Tamaki Tamai in the second manga, Togusa and Aramaki throughout the franchise: While these characters are good at their jobs, they sometimes confuse the maps for the territories, precisely because the maps and territories have started to merge, or because the map is so similar to the territory that the distinctions are hard to make. And it's this confusion of maps and territories- of representations and realities- that forces them to confront themselves.

So they think of the A.I.s or of "Those-Who-Are-Complex" in terms of human motivation, or have to frame it in terms of gods. And their thinking is limited by their humanity, precisely because the Singularity- the event horizon- exists.

In this context, we might want to think of God's answer to Job. "Hast thou...Hast thou..." The only way the Biblical God can answer Job's question- "Why?"- is for God to describe Himself as capable of things well beyond Job's abilities as a human. God's answer, in a nutshell, is: "I can't tell you, and even if I could, you wouldn't understand the answers, because your humanity limits your understanding."

Tamaki asks Motoko, "Why fuse with an information deity who seeks life, old age, and death?" Meaning, among other things, what do you stand to gain from such a fusion? Motoko's response: "No comment."

In the first and second films, the Major can't really describe to Batou what her existence as something Other is like.

We could compare all this with the various extraterrestrials in Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction, and we might think of his comment: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." We might recall the scene in William Gibson's Neuromancer in which a police official says of artificial intelligences, "For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible."

We might think of Frederic Brown's short story "Answer," in which all the computers in human-populated space are interfaced in order to create "one cybernetics machine that would combine all the knowledge of all the galaxies." The machine's creators ask it, "Is there a God?" The machine replies, "Yes, now there is a God."

We might postulate that any intelligence sufficently more complex than our own would appear to us as godlike- or as resembling a demon.

Ray Kurzweil's essay on the Law of Accelerating Returns states the following:

"With the advent of a technology-creating species, the exponential pace became too fast for evolution through DNA-guided protein synthesis and moved on to human-created technology. Technology goes beyond mere tool making; it is a process of creating ever more powerful technology using the tools from the previous round of innovation. In this way, human technology is distinguished from the tool making of other species. There is a record of each stage of technology, and each new stage of technology builds on the order of the previous stage...

"The first technological steps-sharp edges, fire, the wheel--took tens of thousands of years. For people living in this era, there was little noticeable technological change in even a thousand years. By 1000 A.D., progress was much faster and a paradigm shift required only a century or two. In the nineteenth century, we saw more technological change than in the nine centuries preceding it. Then in the first twenty years of the twentieth century, we saw more advancement than in all of the nineteenth century. Now, paradigm shifts occur in only a few years time. The World Wide Web did not exist in anything like its present form just a few years ago; it didn't exist at all a decade ago...

"The exponential trend that has gained the greatest public recognition has become known as 'Moore's Law.' Gordon Moore, one of the inventors of integrated circuits, and then Chairman of Intel, noted in the mid 1970s that we could squeeze twice as many transistors on an integrated circuit every 24 months. Given that the electrons have less distance to travel, the circuits also run twice as fast, providing an overall quadrupling of computational power.

"After sixty years of devoted service, Moore's Law will die a dignified death no later than the year 2019. By that time, transistor features will be just a few atoms in width, and the strategy of ever finer photolithography will have run its course. So, will that be the end of the exponential growth of computing?

"Don't bet on it."
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Last edited by AlphonseVanWorden on Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:35 am; edited 6 times in total
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RealFact#9, I'm glad you didn't find my reply to your post tedious. Laughing

Thanks for the clarifications.

I tend to agree with Lightice when he wrote in response to james_sb:

Quote:
I find it the most boring concievable scenario and certainly one that has been severely overused. It relies on black and white thinking in which you are either one of us, or against us. The very possibility that all the humans, or even all the machines would choose a single side is downright rediculous, in the historical viewpoint.


Lightice's response reminded me of a passage from Vernor Vinge's essay, "The Coming Technological Singularity":

"In fact, I think the new era [that of artificial intelligences, etc.] is simply too different to fit into the classical frame of good and evil. That frame is based on the idea of isolated, immutable minds connected by tenuous, low-bandwith links. But the post-Singularity world does fit with the larger tradition of change and cooperation that started long ago (perhaps even before the rise of biological life)."

Were you meaning something like that, Lightice? Or did you simply mean that the "evil A.I." and "sinister clone" and related science fictional tropes were cliched?

I tend to believe that the obsession with the tropes has something to do with human insecurity. If something more complex than humans or identical to humans was created by humans, folks who have an essentialist view of our species (including the idea that we're necessarily superior to other lifeforms) and of identity would be threatened by the creation.

It's not that dissimilar to the way mad scientists and sinister cops and evil corporations or conspiracies in some science fictions novels resemble necromancers and orcs and Embodiments-of-All-Evil-Who-Reside-in-Wastelands in certain post-/sub-Tolkien fantasy works. The narrative functions are very similar.

All these fictions are mirrors of their target audience's power fantasies, desires, fears...

And of an audience member's self-image.
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Gillsing



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AlphonseVanWorden wrote:
Tamaki asks Motoko, "Why fuse with an information deity who seeks life, old age, and death?" Meaning, among other things, what do you stand to gain from such a fusion? Motoko's response: "No comment."

Well, thanks for clarifying that. :)

I assumed that Motoko was just being obstinate/dismissive rather than unable to provide an answer. Though I suppose that in the first manga she did agree to do it on a 'hunch', so maybe she never really knew why she did it.
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I assumed that Motoko was just being obstinate/dismissive rather than unable to provide an answer. Though I suppose that in the first manga she did agree to do it on a 'hunch', so maybe she never really knew why she did it.


Maybe people do things on hunches, and after a person does something on a hunch, it's hard to explain exactly why s/he did it, so a person might be inclined to be dismissive- to shrug it off- when somebody poses the question?

I never said that the Major didn't know why she fused with the Puppeteer; I said that her reasons would be difficult to explain to anyone other than herself, as both what she felt and what she stood to gain would be things that can't quite be put into words.

I said she could talk around the feelings and the benefit, but a precise articulation of those things would be impossible.

One can think of any number of profound, traumatic, or wonderful experiences that can only be described through deadpan retelling, analogy, metaphor, simile, even cliche.

I wrote:

Quote:
Being in love, or experiencing God, or reflecting upon karma are different things from discussing love, God, or karma. But one can discuss those things, provided that one doesn't confuse the discussions with the things...It's a matter of talking around the change, of describing the indescribable, of naming the unnameable. Metaphor, analogy, image. A way of mapping the territory.


Language can only describe those sorts of experience, not define them.

I said that Kusanagi became "MotokoPlus" after fusing with the Puppeteer; I stand behind that. "You and I would change slightly in our totality, but we wouldn't lose anything...After fusing, it should be impossible for us to recognize each other." As I said, it's like mating or marriage, it resembles those things, but it's radically different from them.

Recall that the Puppeteer explains its offer in terms of "karmic connectivity" and biology. "Just as in biology a basal array adapts in life, the act of adapting is called EN, or karmic connectivity." "Here you are asking me to 'marry' a life form consisting of nothing but intelligence, because of 'karmic connection'..."

The discussion between the Major and the Puppeteer is based upon analogy, upon similarities between concepts.

Humans can't achieve the kind of fusion that the Puppeteer is offering to the Major. Maybe that's part of what makes the notion so appealing to her.

Quote:
Tamaki asks Motoko, "Why fuse with an information deity who seeks life, old age, and death?" Meaning, among other things, what do you stand to gain from such a fusion? Motoko's response: "No comment."


Let's substitute terms. "Why did you marry that guy?" "No comment."

Or: "What do you see in him?" "No comment."

I think we're familiar with that kind of conversation, and not just from manga.

Remember Tamaki's other questions: "Do you have dreams?" "What do you use for self-realization?" "And that is why death is acceptable?"

Notice the questions imply simple answers.

Motoko answers the questions, and there's depth to her answers. But her responses become increasingly ironic as the questioning continues. "What real advantages has a highly sophisticated prosthetic body- far more advanced than a human one- given you?" "I suppose a psychologist might say this is the revenge of the 'real' body I lost as a girl."

"Why fuse with an information deity who seeks life, old age, and death?" "No comment."

The humor in the scene arises from Tamaki's inability to stop asking variations on "Are you human?", from Motoko's final response (the equivalent of "whatever"; one suspects Motoko is getting tired of the line of questioning), and from the notion that, well, how do you explain total fusion of two selves to someone who hasn't experienced it, and how do you reduce your life's experiences into simple answers?

To answer Tamaki's questions, you might well use the same terms the Puppeteer employed: religious/archetypal imagery, RNA transfer, karmic connectivity, data exchange, marriage.

In the very next scene, Tamaki sees "the sacred pillar": "Both she and one other- an asymmetrical shadow of herself- have gone back up the sacred column....The branches are swaying, and the tree itself appears to be responding to something."

Remember what the Puppeteer told the Major: "The network is of macrocosmic size, and has infinite depth. It's like a growing tree...The secrets of the Kabbala, the Norse and Chinese myths, the Tree of Knowledge in Eden, the Tree of Life, the World Tree- these are all worthy of being called Amenomibashira, or 'The Pillar of Heaven'... And the branches are continually touching, separating, entangling, bearing fruit."

This should remind us of the courtship sequence from the Kojiki:

"Having descended from Heaven on to this island, they saw to the erection of a heavenly august pillar, they saw to the erection of a hall of eight fathoms. Then Izanagi, the Male-Who-Invites, said to Izanami, the Female-Who-Invites, 'We should create children'; and he said, 'Let us go around the heavenly august pillar, and when we meet on the other side let us be united. Do you go around from the left, and I will go from the right.'"

Recall that Motoko told Batou at the end of the original manga that he'd "probably meet her children" before he'd ever meet her again.

We could easily take the imagery as showing Tamaki what somebody stands to gain from fusion with a godlike being. Of course, the metaphor's rather polite...

Motoko's response to Tamaki's question was dismissive, obstinate, and a few other things; it was very much in keeping with her "original" personality. But Motoko isn't "just" Motoko anymore. Still, I think she has some idea as to why she accepted the Puppeteer's offer. The answer's implied in the original manga, in both the Puppeteer's offer, and in an earlier conversation between the Major and Batou. "You know... when I did a brain dive into him... just before I lost consciousness..." "Yeah...? C'mon, tell me? You fall in love with him?"

Perhaps Batou's being sarcastic, but there's something to the question. The Puppeteer describes the concept of fusion in terms of the archetypal tree/pillar, karma, biology. And the Major thinks of it in terms of marriage.

But if it's fusion and not symbiosis, it goes well beyond those models. The map (the analogies) would only be approximations of the territory (fusion).

It would be hard to answer the question, "Why would somebody want to fuse with a godlike, posthuman entity?"

Tamaki wanted a simple answer.

She got imagery from a creation myth.
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Lightice



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AlphonseVanWorden wrote:

Were you meaning something like that, Lightice? Or did you simply mean that the "evil A.I." and "sinister clone" and related science fictional tropes were cliched?


To some extent I did mean simply to point out, that those things have been done to death in fiction, but more importantly, that I consider them extremely unrealistic concepts in the context of real life. The possibility, that all of humanity would choose to oppose the Other - AI, alien or whatever strange life-form - or that the Other would regard entirety of human species with rentless hostility is quite rediculous. Conflicts most likely couldn't be avoided, but the assumption that there would only be two entirely different sides utterly incapable of having other than hostile interaction with each other doesn't sound slightest bit credible.

In the Middle Ages, when the Chrusades were made to the Middle-East, the conflict wasn't actually between Christians and Muslims, no matter what the pope's orders were. Both Christians and Muslims allied each other, betrayed each other, fought against those of their own religion, occasionally side by side with the alledged enemies of their faith. Even in such a strong clash of cultures it was the pragmatics who didn't care for the ideologies of either side, who claimed the greatest victories.

Quote:
I tend to believe that the obsession with the tropes has something to do with human insecurity. If something more complex than humans or identical to humans was created by humans, folks who have an essentialist view of our species (including the idea that we're necessarily superior to other lifeforms) and of identity would be threatened by the creation.


That is unfortunately true. That is why I do believe, that conflicts will be almost inevitable. Whether they will take the form of physical violence will remain to be seen, though. In any case, pretty much the only way to work around this typical human insecurity is to expand the concept of human further. It is easy to accept that a cyborg with a human brain is still human, even though the rest of the body is artifical. It isn't really that great step into accepting, that an android is human, as well, if it's entirely impossible to tell apart from a cyborg. Also, when imprinting one's mind into a computer becomes possible, the line fades even further.
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Gillsing



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AlphonseVanWorden wrote:
Tamaki wanted a simple answer.

She got imagery from a creation myth.

But is that imagery the answer to her question or did she instead witness the two Motokos 'handling' that new virtual life-form they discussed previously? I always assumed that it was the latter, even though the former fits nicely with your reasoning. Though I suppose that Motoko could be showing what she's doing with that new life-form in an effort to make Tamaki understand, and thus giving her an answer to a similar/alternative question. But I also assumed that Tamaki is the one in charge of 'spying' on Motoko, and that Motoko didn't invite her and might be unable to stop her. And then it seems reasonable to assume that what Tamaki witnesses is not an answer to her question, but merely her interpretation of what Motoko is up to at the moment.
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But is that imagery the answer to her question or did she instead witness the two Motokos 'handling' that new virtual life-form they discussed previously? I always assumed that it was the latter, even though the former fits nicely with your reasoning.


Does this have to be an either-or situation?

Quote:
Though I suppose that Motoko could be showing what she's doing with that new life-form in an effort to make Tamaki understand, and thus giving her an answer to a similar/alternative question.


Sometimes images communicate concepts better than words do.

Notice that Tamaki has to describe what she's seeing by using words. And Aramaki, Batou, etc. then discuss what she's said. She's experiencing something- and seeing something- but she has to put the experience and the sights into words. Then, the others discuss concepts using words.

What might those last couple of panels to the manga mean?

Quote:
[I]t seems reasonable to assume that what Tamaki witnesses is not an answer to her question, but merely her interpretation of what Motoko is up to at the moment


And might the interpretation BE the answer?

A question: Anyone familiar with process theology? I think similar concepts apply to both the first and (especially) the second manga.
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Gillsing



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, if Motoko intended for her actions to answer Tamaki's question, she could've said "watch and learn" instead of "no comment". Just saying...
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think "No comment" is a.) more in keeping with the Motoko character and b.) a pretty nifty comment on the difference between showing and telling and on the limitations of language.

Shocked

Wait a minute. You're reading and responding to these posts?

Shocked

Should I be responding to your post? I mean, you did say you were having fun at my expense in another thread... Laughing Laughing Razz

"Words, words, words..."
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Gillsing



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have a problem with posts that are short enough, and I didn't say that I was having fun at your expense. I said that I indulged in amusing myself, and that only applied to a very small part of my post, not the whole post. Trust me, when I have to resort to amusing myself, I'm not really having much fun. Sad
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Lightice



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AlphonseVanWorden wrote:
I think "No comment" is a.) more in keeping with the Motoko character and b.) a pretty nifty comment on the difference between showing and telling and on the limitations of language.


I'm all but certain, that the original line was Motoko's trademark "Dôkashira...", that she uses in so many parts of the SAC, that it can't be a coincedence, and which can be interpreted as "I wonder", "I couldn't say", "I'm not sure" or even "no comment". If someone has the original Japanese volume, could they please check, if my presumption is correct, here?

I do think that you're onto something, here. Motoko's extremely ambigious answer is most likely a statement, that she is unable to explain to Tamai, in a way that she could understand and ends up showing it to her, instead.
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What made me interpret the text this way- aside from what I've already said- was the crow that Tamaki Tamai sees.

In the Kojiki, we find the following passage:

"Then His Augustness the Great-High-Integrating-Deity again commanded and taught, saying: 'August son of the Heavenly Deity! make no progress hence into the interior. The savage Deities are very numerous. I will now send from Heaven a crow eight feet [long]. So that crow eight feet [long] shall guide thee. Thou must make thy progress following after it as it goes.' So on making his progress following after the crow eight feet [long] in obedience to the Deity's instructions, he [His Augustness Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko] reached the lower course of the Yeshinu River, where there was a person catching fish in a weir. Then the august child of the Heavenly Deity asked, saying: 'Who art thou?' He replied, saying: 'I am an Earthly Deity and am called by the name of Nihe-motsu no Ko.' (This is the ancestor of the Cormorant-Keepers of Aha.) On [His Augustness Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko] making his progress thence, a person with a tail came out of a well. The well shone. Then [His Augustness] asked: 'Who art thou?' He replied, saying: 'I am an Earthly Deity, and my name is Wi-hika.' (This is the ancestor of the Headmen of Yeshinu). On his forthwith entering the mountains, His Augustness Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko again met a person with a tail. This person came forth pushing the cliffs apart. Then [His Augustness Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko] asked: 'Who art thou?' He replied, saying; 'I am an Earthly Deity, and my name is Iha-oshi-waku no Ko. I heard just now that the august son of the Heavenly Deity was making his progress. So it is for that that I have come to meet thee.' (This is the ancestor of the Territorial Owners of Yeshinu). Thence [His Augustness Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko] penetrated over on foot to Uda. So they say: 'The Ugachi of Uda.'"

In short, Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko- the Emperor Jimmu, "first ancestor of the Yamato no Atahe" and founder of an Imperial Dynasty, supposed descendent of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess- requires a guide- the crow, or Yatagarasu- before he can journey to the interior lands, as those lands are guarded by deities. (While the interiority of the lands in the Kojiki is physical, geographical, I think we see a different sort of interiority- the interiority of the Self, of the psyche- in MMI.)

This particular set of tales- the exploits of Jimmu, or Kamu-yamato-ihare-biko- has to do with the "founding" of Japan. It's a kind of national creation myth.

The crow acts as guide to Jimmu, just as another crows acts as guide to Tamai. Remember that in the Kojiki, a god gives Jimmu the crow-guide. The gift of the crow is a benevolent gesture on the part of the Great-High-Integrating-Deity.

First Tamai sees the pillar, then Motoko and "one other- an asymmetrical shadow of [Motoko]" climbing up the pillar. This reminds us of the fertility myth I mentioned earlier.

We're told that the double could be an "amanojaku, or contrary demon", an entity which serves both as protector of sacred sites and as an interrogating spirit. (An amanojaku's image is placed outside of temples and shrines so that any evil attempting to enter the sacred precincts will have to confront its own nature- thus preventing evil from entering the premises.) This amanojaku is another aspect of Motoko. "It's an internal reflection or 'shadow of the self' that coexists in everyone with their real self." We might think of Jung's notion of the Shadow, of the doppelgänger of folklore. With its abilities to undermine a person's identity and foreshadow someone's death, we might consider the doppelgänger as a person's wicked twin- that aspect of the Self which one fears or represses- or as a creature which confronts someone in a liminal state, a threshold guardian challenging us on the road to understanding, to the integrated Self. The shadow aspect of the Self in Jungian psychology serves a similar function.

Remember what the Puppetmaster told Motoko in the first manga: "You and I would change slightly in our totality, but we wouldn't lose anything...After fusing, it should be impossible for us to recognize each other." After the fusion, Motoko is MotokoPlus, Motoko plus the Puppeteer. But that sort of fusion- and what that fusion could generate- is something Motoko- more accurately the Motoko aspect of MotokoPlus- can't exactly explain to Tamai in words.

"Why fuse with an information deity who seeks life, old age, and death?" "No comment."

In this context, we can see a profound reworking of the romantic cliché, "You complete me."

Motoko and the amanojaku ascend the sacred pillar, just as Izanagi, the Male-Who-Invites, danced around the sacred pillar with Izanami, the Female-Who-Invites. And I believe the movement's purpose is pretty much the same: procreation.

"The roots of the tree are erupting from one point, and revolving...There is a similar tree, erupting on the other side, and revolving...She has reached the point of contact for the two trees..."

Notice that just as Motoko had her shadow or double, the sacred tree now seems to have its double. Two entities- the Major and her "double". Two trees. But Tamai later says, "I'm seeing the tree in double... No, wait... Perhaps there's two of me?" Perhaps what Tamai perceives in the earlier scene as two entities- the Major and the amanojaku- have already become one, and all this imagery is a way of showing Tamai what Motoko gained from merging with the Puppeteer, of answering Tamai's question.

Remember the conversation between the Puppeteer and the Major: "What, Kusanagi, should a specific net do in order to avoid catastrophe and preserve a state of equilibrium?" "Well, there are two possibilities... One is to make a copy. Then, if one is destroyed for some reason, the other continues to survive. The other possibility is to establish an internal division of labor- to subdivide and become multi-functional, and thus be capable of surviving a variety of catastrophic situations... Just as life has evolved from single-function, single-cell structures to multi-function, multi-cell structures." "So the copies generate more copies, and the more they increase, the less chance of catastrophe...There appears to be some relationship to an explosive chain-reaction-like birth of universes, but we should limit our discussion to the single universe that contains us..."

When Tamai is witnessing the process of division in Man-Machine Interface, she says of the two trees: "No, wait... The edges of the roots are not contacting each other....They are sprouting from two points... Midway between the two points something is being sucked inward with an astounding force..."

Remember that we later learn that the "two trees" aren't necessarily two different trees. "I'm seeing the tree in double... No, wait...Perhaps there's two of me? Everything looks like a double image, but it's stabilized. In terms of the scale, it's the maximum possible in visible space. It's like a revolving mirror." [emphasis added]

But the two trees- associated with the two entities, Motoko and her "double"- generate a third thing.

Tamai sees this third thing- this thing "[m]idway between the two points"- as the crow. A spirit guide, associated with a nation's birth, with dynasty and destiny.

"The sword, the mirror, and the jewel are all together now..." Tamai says. We should recall that these three items are the Imperial Treasures of Japan, the Imperial Regalia. They are intimately connected with the concept of an Imperial Dynasty. Kusanagi is the name of the sword; as a symbol, it represents courage. (Courage to cross the threshold, to take the first step to a post- or transhuman existence, perhaps?) For the mirror, we might think of the amanojaku or double. The Imperial mirror represents- appropriately enough- wisdom. And the jewel- representing or at least reminding us of the crow-as-guide, the thing "[m]idway between the two points"- is benevolence.

I really do think these images provide an answer to Tomai's question: "Why fuse with an information deity who seeks life, old age, and death?"

To found a dynasty, to create something that is an interface between two worlds- one human, one divine- or at least non-human. Something that can point the way to a change, a paradigm shift. As someone says to Section 9 Chief Aramaki in MMI, "In the new millennium, something hugely influential will emerge... I do not know what it is, specifically, but it is our job to determine its nature."

Meaning, it's their job to find out what the thing means.

To figure out the nature of the guide, and to see where the guide wants to lead them.

But remember the god who gave the crow to Jimmu: the Great-High-Integrating-Deity.

And remember what Shirow states in a note: "Although the story seems very Shinto-ish here, remember...it isn't Shinto."

It's about the relationship between human and non-human lifeforms.
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi


Last edited by AlphonseVanWorden on Sat Mar 18, 2006 10:36 am; edited 6 times in total
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