Last week I told you guys I didn’t know if I would be posting weekly on Steins;Gate and I meant it entirely. But then CactusMatt told me that I would keep doing it in my comments and who am I to argue. I’ve never met Matt be we get along well. It’s one of those things, where you could have sworn you’ve known someone for way longer than you actually have…

like they remind you of someone

You know, I’m going to assume you’ve seen the episode. At least you’ve read someone else’s real review and don’t need a recap at this point.

I’m a time travel otaku and like many people, I’m guilty of emphasizing the quantum physics technobabble in the Steins;Gate franchise and really not giving enough credit to the beautiful piece of creative neuroscience that’s included. It deserves way more credit and is a lot more detailed and plausible then the time travel stuff.

The tricky nature of sentience is another long time fascination for me that I’m illequipped to properly appreciate. What are we exactly. We take it for granted that our higher identity resides somewhere separately from our physical body. We are quick to accept sci fi premises where a head or even brain transplant allows someone to survive in an entirely different body but still be themselves. On the other hand, a Borg or zombie still has its body but the person behind it is gone….

I understand why you might think so but NOT a zombie

There’s a popular theory that teleportation would be possible by essentially encoding all the information that makes up an individual breaking it down at point A and simply reassembling that info at point B. Essentially 3d printing the physical components and uploading the data. In a sense, this is a perfect copy and the original is gone but does it matter. Is the copy any less that person?

The question of what exactly is the fundamental essence of the self is what 0 is exploring right now. What’s the bare minimum needed for someone to be who they are. For lack of a better word, how do we quantify the spirit? I am really enjoying this take.

can’t wait til that’s me – I will be able to eat whatever I want

Like I said last week, I’m Okabe. I can’t see a Steins;Gate Story in a different way.

So as Okabe, I was relieved to meet Maho. Finally, someone who I can relate to on some level. United by our love of science and our grief. Comrades is some secret war that might never happen. I realize that Okabe and I are a man without a country. In this worldline, we’ve accepted that we cannot fix anything and did the best we could to simply patch things. Trying to make life as smooth as possible for our friends. As a result, no one has the slightest idea what we’ve actually gone through and we’ve purposefully isolated ourselves from them.  In that light, Maho is the closest thing to a friend we can be honest with, in a weird way, this strange girl who we’ve just met may be our closest confident now.

Then again I instantly love anyone I share drinks with

And then of course, there’s Kurisu herself. Or is it Kurisu at all. This girl doesn’t know us. She’s just a picture of someone we use to know in another life. She’s too playful and soft. She giggles. She believes time travel is reasonable. Clearly this is a pale copy. This is not the spirited spitfire we knew and loved…or is she?

When Okabe called her Christina I screamed at him to stop being an idiot. Stop fooling himself. Maho had warned him that this would be painful. When Amadeus hung up on us I screamed at my TV: Wait..Christina….

This is a bad idea. It’s a bad idea to fall for someone blindly because of they remind us of someone we loved. They aren’t the same person, not really. It’s a bad idea to get completely enamored with a show at the second episode because it feels like a series we adore. This can’t end well…

2018-04-20_22-21-31I got so many pics and they’re all more or less the same….


17 thoughts

  1. I’m really liking Maho. She’s the ideal entry into this show: someone who knew Kurisu and is working in the AI-neuro-science angle. She’s straightforward and faces you head on, but she’s also aware of you. Crucially, the Kurise they programmed and recorded isn’t very much like the Kurisu we knew, but when Maho and Okabe talk about her, they easily find commonalities.

    The differences in personality and approach you mentioned? They sort of make sense to me. This is a relaxed Kurisu, who’s polite and friendly to a stranger who her friends introduced (and who she may have been told was a friend her meat-space template met later in life). First impressions matter, and Okabe never really got to know a relaxed and friendly Kurisu. Okabe’s behaviour was… unusual. His own first impression on Kurisu was certainly not favourable, but her curiosity still won out and there she was. She went from irritated over intrigued to close, but social niceties like these here never came into it. Okabe pretty much immediately triggered her stubborn aspects by being his overbearing self. This is a Kurisu that Maho is more familiar with: a pretty young genius who’s getting a rather astounding opportunity. Her personality differences make sense to me in terms of social situations.

    And then there’s the AI angle. Once you create one, do they have rights of their own? Can you switch them off, or is this murder? There are practical problems that aren’t easy to solve, because we still don’t know what consciousness is and why we have subjective experience. What about Maho’s AI version? If you transfer AI memory states to people or the other way round, what are the limits of what makes an individual? Who’s held legally accountable? What if you run more versions of the same AI and exchange subroutines? I’m not sure how far they’ll deal with issues like that, but having consciousness in an AI who isn’t bound to a single body (and maybe it’s possible to host one in a cloud, i.e. no single processor runs the AI?) and can be de- and re-activated from memory states challenges what it means to be an individual.

    So, yeah, this isn’t Kurisu. It’s an AI that has Kurisu’s memories and parameters, but no body (no hormones, no blood and no head it could rush to for a blush, none of those bodily inconveniences [does she sleep?]). What about eating. Can she meaningfully remember taste when her machine existance has no way to input taste? Can you simulate taste by importing other people’s memories of eating (and do other people’s memories stand a chance of being integrated)? (Food is an anime staple, and this is an interesting problem.)

    I’m guessing Steins;Gate 0 is the best chance we have for them to explain Okabe’s Steins;Gate and what happened when he was ill as a child. At least, the show seems to be putting the pieces in place for that. (Please note that I’ve never found Mayuri’s route in the game, so I’m not sure the game addresses it there, which would be the most plausible route for this. I somehow don’t think so, but it’s possible.)

    I’m sooooo back for this season, and it’s a relief, considering I was rather worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

    1. I’m not sure if you’ve played the game – I’m trying hard to approach the series as if I hadn’t myself but I must say the adaptation is fantastic so far. So fantastic in fact that it makes me nervous.
      I wish I knew someone I could chat with about this show. Just because it’s an AI and necessarily exists in a different reality does that make her a different person. What if Kurisu herself had lost her sense of taste and touch, would that fundamentally change her. Blood and hormones can be manufactured, sleep is still mysterious but we know it isn’t required for human life… However, if we are the sum of our experiences than by necessity and 8 month ago Christina is not the same person. But if a person is defined by their Ego and Id and those can be expressed in chemical data…then that info could be translated potentially. I know some people think that notion somehow reductive, as if it lessens human nature if it can de replicated but I find it absolutely fascinating and a little comforting.
      Conservation of information and all that…

      1. I’ve played Steins;Gate but no zero. So this season’s story is completely new to me.

        I’m approaching this from a practical standpoint: the first AI we’ve been introduced to was virtual Maho. If there’s such a thing as subjective experience, then Maho and her virtual version would have different subjective experiences – especially when they talk to each other. This is an unprecedent situation, because a unit of subjective experience is – so far – restricted to one person. Here’s the thing: if there’s a virtual version of you who commits a crime you thought of commiting but managed not to, would it be fair to hold you responsible, too? That is do we have one person with two consciousnesses or two people who are very similar?

        Compare this issue to transporter mishaps in Star Trek. There we clearly have two body units (and one is always more ruled by id than the other, though that’s probably because it makes for a more fun story) that share the same data. The difference is that here we have a clear bifurcation point, like for an amoeba. Here? The potential to transfer memories changes things, especially if you can only transfer memories with yourself. It’s theoretically possible to keep a version of yourself as an app on your (far advanced future) smartphone and synchronise as a scheduled task. What then?

        For me, the key problem here lies in the presence of subjective experience, and this ties into the debate around the “hard problem of consciouness” (Chalmers vs. Denett, to simplify). If a sense of self is important, than Maho and her copy have one each: that is in a conversation between the two, there’s always one mental state not directly accessible to the other (barring induced telepathy, which I’m not going to rule out at that point, either). This is different from a conversation with yourself inside your head, though dissociative identity disorders might through this into doubt as well (no expert).

        This is where Steins;Gate one-ups other SF stories with that concept, because Okabe’s Steins;Gate basically has him have memories from other time-lines: he remembers stuff that didn’t happen in this time-line. At this point, I have no hope in puzzling this out. The implications are already difficult with only AI, but add in alternate versions of yourself in different timelines and break down the barries, and then do the same thing with a non-body-bound AI, and… it’s difficult to imagine. See, if they were to go back in time again and confront AI-Kurisu with a later memory update though the phone (or a router…). The implications are head-spinningly interesting, here.

        1. well Okabe’s case is even more interesting than the AIs in my opinion. We know that neural pathways essentially rewrite themselves in response o experiences (neurotransmitters and hormones) now there a theory, and I’m going to butcher it here, but essentially our memory grows with us. So what Okabe is doing is cramming memories in a brain that doesn’t have the proper pathways and associated eurochemical mapping or potentially *space* for them. By he end of the first game – and 0 is a continuation from Mayuri’s route he has close to a year (perhaps a bit more) of superfluous unassociated memories.
          What does that make him?
          Now virtual Maho diverged just a few hours before so her subjective experience hasn’t branched out much. I’m going to go out on a HUGE lim with your question of fairness – I don’t have an answer BUT in many countries and for many years, it was not uncommon to hold a parent responsible for the crimes of a small child…No I’m not saying these are the same at all – but there are legal social precedence for transferring responsibility.
          yeah…I like this show

          1. Yeah, there’s legal precedence for tranferring responsibility. But if an AI version of you and you yourself are actually the same person, then there’s no reason to treat such a case as one of “transferring responsibility” – you literally did it in your AI incarnation. You may just not know about it yet, because you haven’t synchronised.

            So, for example, Kurisu’s and Maho’s AI versions never actually graduated anywhere, but they have the same memories of doing so that the people have, so they also profit from this degree personally – to the point that it makes sense to give them the same degrees. However, even though they also have memories of a childhood they’ve never had – my instinct is that it doesn’t make sense to let them also share the birth certificate. They’re AIs, and they were switched on with a copied set of memories. They have their own “birthdays”, for example.

            Okabe has memories of a future that might have happened, but he has the memories from an Okabe who actually went through this. The futrue exists in the form of trace memories (those headaches must be immense!). But here, we can only ever have one body, which makes handling individuality a lot easier – simply because those memories exist only in the form of one subjectivity… SO FAR…. How does the AI’s foundational hard- and software work? Can you make a copy of Okabe and tranfer the memories to the AI (no headaches?). And… would it be fair to ask this of an AI copy?

            As I said, I have no idea where the story is going, so it might be a tad hard to talk if you know the story, but that’s what’s going through my head.

            1. I’m not even sure where they’ll go, it’s why Im so impressed. I can’t wait for the next episode

    1. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite translate if you haven’t seen he first one…If you have patience for older titles Serial Experiments Lain also tackles the question

  2. Seeing Kurisu giggle was definitely a bit strange. I am interested in where they go with the is this or isn’t this Kurisu argument. While I’m still not sold on the show as a whole, there’s an interesting concept to explore here.

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