On the differences in brain functions between humans, 00 Unit and the BETA

It’s more or less safe to say that Muv-Luv does not represent real sciences very well as a franchise. Yoshimune Kouki has mentioned in few occasions that because a lot of things are imaginary, like giant robots, it is impossible to come up certain reasons or numbers for them, like the maximum speed of as a Tactical Surface Fighter. What sort of material super carbon is another, but these are more or less things that don’t ultimately matter on the grand scale. They exist for the setting and requires the suspension of disbelief. However, there are number of things that simply don’t jive with. A personal favourite to point out is the use of Mohs hardness to describe how hard BETA shielding structures are. Mohs 15 indicates that the substance is loads harder than diamond in that diamond can’t scratch it, but it can scratch diamond. That’s all there is to it. It does not describe toughness, and in Mohs scale, and as an overall general rule, the harder something is, the more brittle it is. This is straight up screw up, especially considering Mohs is mostly used for minerals only. It would have served the setting better if something like Rockwell hardness scale would have been used.

Similarly, a major cornerstone in the story is parallel computing in order to create full-body prosthesis with whole brain emulation. WHB is an assumption due to how it practically works, but this sidesteps another issue with the fiction. The fiction assumes that human brains and a computer’s central processing unit work the same or very similar way. This is an assumption made by AI researchers like Alan Turing that still persist. In reality, human brain and any computer work wholly differently, and even assuming that the brain ‘computes’ would be wrong. The assumption is that the human brain does the same work as the computer in fewer steps because brain cells work in parallel. A computer may be able to calculate mathematical equations faster than the human mind, but it will take longer to recognize a picture of a cat, because it has to refer to a library of and compare against that. An idea is that if it takes brains only ten steps to do the work, computers can shorten the steps by paralleling the computing ten times. This doesn’t actually lower the amount of steps, it simply means those hundred steps are made in parallel. The comparison however is not apt.

At its base, human brain uses memories as its base. High-school biology already taught us how there are different levels of memory, from sensory memory all the way to procedural and episodic memories. We gain experience as we grow up, and our brains refer to the memories each time we act upon something. The more you catch a ball, the more memories of catching the ball you gain. However, you don’t catch the ball the same way every time, as the brain is plastic; it changes how your arm positions itself as the ball comes in different ways. It does not analyse the angle of the ball, the speed of it, or its change in position in relation to you in time, but it refers to the last time you caught a ball. The more memories, i.e. experience, you gain in catching the ball, the better the brain is able to predict how to catch the ball. This is the cornerstone in human intelligence, where the human brain is able to successfully predict reality based on memory and acts upon it.

While other animals are able to predict as well, the sheer structural difference between other animals and humans lays in the function of the neocortex, which has the most layers in the animal kingdom. While other animals are a cortex, only humans are able to predict to the amount of creating writing and language in an intelligent fashion and build structures that allow us to travel into space. There is no true central unit that processes a core bulk of the input the brain gets from the senses. The brain is extremely plastic, and no area in the brain wants to be left unused. A blind person’s brain uses the area that would otherwise be wired to sight to something else, like reading Braille. This plasticity also means that you could re-wire brain to different senses, and due to how the neocortex has a common key “code” how to handle the input, different sections of the brain could analyse different inputs we usually key to them. A famous example from 2001 is the blind climber climbing Mount Everest by using BrainPort, a device that allows blind people to see via their tongue. All the brain has to learn is to interpret the sensation on the tongue as images, and with brain’s plasticity, it can do just that. This is due to the brain working under patterns and recognising them. 🙂 looks like a smiling face to us, despite being only a series of three different marks. However, we recognise the colon as the eyes, the hyphen as a nose and the bracket as a smile because the brain is trained memories to recognise faces in this pattern. It can vary wildly, but this is the core reason we see faces everywhere. The brain loves patterns, and this has allowed humanity to create systems such as language to prosper further.

How does this relate to Muv-Luv? In my previous post about artificial intelligence in Muv-Luv, I sidestepped the reality of issues altogether. It was more or less assuming and explaining how things might work within the setting rather than taking things at face value, as there is not much meat to them as they are. The G Material based artificial brain 00 Unit uses is rather directly a consequence of parallel computing, but there is no deeper explanation given how it works or how the donor brain was adapted or modelled. Fans can come up explanations and expand on the topics, like how I’ve mentioned the concept of 00 Unit’s brain being effectively whole brain emulation. However, this introduces a conflict; if the artificial brain is a physical one-to-one emulation of the donor brain, then why is there need for parallel computing? The idea does not work against the fiction as its laid out. It exists solely because the theory of computers being able to match human brain if they had parallel computing, and thus maybe give way to general or superintelligence. I could theorise that parallel computing was not used to create the artificial brain itself, but used elsewhere in 00 Unit’s artificial body in order to keep the signals body movements in accordance to the brain’s signals, but this fails on the account that computer hardware is superior to brain wiring already, has been for few decades now. What comes to humans naturally is incredibly hard for computers due to the sheer amount of coding required. As 00 Unit goes, the fiction shows that the artificial brain uses parallel computing in order to run Kagami Sumika’s personality and is required to be powered on all the time. Why this is the case is a good question, something that’s more for drama rather than practical reasons. Whether or not this plot point will be repeated in future, when more 00 Units exists, is an open question.

The main point of making a 00 Unit is to make a being with zero carbon marks, zero life signs as we determine them. 00 Unit has demonstrated full-scale human ability in being as plastic, something that the BETA are not.

The BETA function has biological computers. The fact that they are made of what seems like flesh is largely inconsequential. Because the fiction assumes the similarity between human brain and CPU, it should be safe to assume that the creators of BETA (Siliconians or The Creators, reader’s pick in naming) have naturally formed what resemble our CPUs as their brain. Hence, BETA being posed against all CPU carrying devices and recognising 00 Unit as life. To step into theory zone, this seems to indicate that the Creators themselves are no plastic beings and are extremely rigid. They may have superior speed in thought and solving problems, but they’re unable to conform in a way human mind can. If the assumption wasn’t that CPUs and brains have similar core function, it’d be safe to say that they lack the human intelligence to predict.

The BETA themselves are not life. They are machines in flesh, lacking anything that makes core functions of life. They do not have self-preservation and they do not breed, they are machines to be used and discarded when needed, and manufactured rather than bred and born. I would argue that no BETA is sentient. Outside the Superordinate, the BETA behaviour is completely mechanical. Superordinate too only follows its programming and is not plastic in its functions or behaviour, unable to change its programming without having a direct input from a silicon based life. The BETA have a central processing unit rather than a brain.

This should colour the nature of their behaviour in proper light. Just like a computer, the BETA follow coded functions given to them. They are rigid beings unable to change them. Only when in a situation where Superordinate has direct input, in case of being bombed to hell or gains silicon based information via the Reactor network or otherwise, it is capable of changing its own or the rest of BETA behaviour. However, it should be noted that what Superordinate has done is not plastic nor did it devise something new. The tactics the BETA used in Yokohama to flank the base’s defences was based on human tactics know to 00 Unit, and the creation of Super Heavy Laser Class is based on available BETA building blocks, though it is more probable that it existed as a concept already set in its programmed memory. The way it could learn a human language and communication again is based on information the Superordinate was able to gain from 00 Unit.

The Superordinate is classed as Heavy Brain Class and described as a biological quantum computer. It would be safe to assume that it has a far larger series of cortices than the human brain does, but laid out in a completely different manner. Despite being carbon based, the chances are that it is more similar to 00 Unit’s artificial G Materials based brain rather than human brain are high. As I’ve argued before, the BETA’s most dangerous weapon has always been their superintelligence in Superordinate, but the sheer rigidness BETA programming has prevented any extensive use of it, only showcasing some glimpses of it here and there, like rolling out Laser Class early in a Hive’s development to function as anti-air weaponry. If used to any significant degree, the BETA would have eradicated all life from Earth in far shorter time than anyone could have guessed. Just to reiterate, the BETA are presented to the reader as biological computers, which has been wrongly interpreted as an invading life form.

Muv-Luv is not a hard science fiction series. Some would even argue that it’s fantasy, much like how Star Wars is fantasy due to Force. The ideas and concepts discussed here are mostly for interest, with some criticism and argumentation throw in there. However, most of the concepts, like brain and CPU being alike, have dropped in favour within the last decade by large margins, which makes the story show its age. However, the story does sidestep most of the grudges by simply not expanding or explaining the matters in clear-cut manners, mostly due to there being no explanation overall. These can be, and probably should be, rectified at a later date, but that most likely won’t happen. A fan theorising and creating possible explanations for the authors like the I’ve been for two posts now does not really showcase where the story’s main emphasize is, and that’s in the characters. The rest surrounding them is more or less framework and setting in service of them.

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