The one topic I missed in my two previous posts about Artificial Intelligence in Muv-Luv is the question about personal perception of the AI. This was mostly because we have solid proof what kind of nature 00 Unit has as an AI, but the rest are less clear. The question can be asked relating to ourselves; do you consider yourself to be a mind driving the body, or do you consider yourself as one whole, mind and body together? It might do well to read the previous two, because I am going to use the same terminology as in them.
00 Unit as super intelligence was build on the personality of BETAverse’s Kagami Sumika. It works on the basis of emulating an existing persona and intelligence. If we take this 00 Unit as a standard model, 00 Units in general would require a replicated body for them to function properly. This is to avoid psychological issues, such as alienation of oneself. This is the same reason why Alex Murphy of Robocop still retains his face; in order not fracture the psyche inside the cyborg’s body. The super intelligence running 00 Unit bodies would effectively be emulated humans and could not be changed easily into another form of body. We can see Kagami Sumika’s psyche being completely broken and catatonic in its new body, partially due to complete sensory deprivation, Post-traumatic stress disorder and probably from her identity crisis. The 00 Unit body the intelligence inhabits is, after all, very different from the BETA violated one she last remembered being dissected. While the body was modelled after the original body, it most definitely was the idealised body Sumika’s memories had of herself. 00 Unit doesn’t become her “self” until she can resynthesize her broken ego, thus fixing her identity separation. 00 Unit Kagami Sumika may be technification of herself, but in the end the recuperated psyche is the same Kagami Sumika as before the original brain was destroyed for emulation. Ultimately, there is continuity between the pre-death and post-death consciousness without any separation or alienation between human Sumika and 00 Unit Sumika, which would indicate that outside physical matters, the ‘soul’ or self is the same.
In principle it should be possible to overcome this psychological issue on the long run and allow 00 Unit to change bodies as long as the artificial brain can be kept running during the transfer, but the nature of human psyche would always mean that the mind and the body are considered to be one whole. The fact you could discard the body for a better one might take some preparations and not something to be done out cold.
We don’t really have much to go with the BETA. On the surface it might seem that they too seem to follow this pattern, but we don’t really know. Considering the BETA don’t consider themselves as a form of life, perhaps their AI considers itself as the driver of these biological machines rather than being a whole. Imagine their bodies to be cars that the AI drives. It’d be safe to assume that all different strains have a strain specific version of the BETA AI that’s “installed” during creation process. We’ve yet to see this process, but it’s easy to assume BETA are as they are from the moment they come online. Perhaps some of the BETA are birthed in specific chambers combined or even via Reactors, maybe some are specifically constructed. The Superordinate could be argued to be at least aware as a being, which would imply that it considers its body part of its whole.
These are very human-specific angles. In reality, we wouldn’t know how a general intelligence or super intelligence would think itself as. We can make some assumptions based on human psyche if we use brain emulation, but true machine intelligence would be a complete mystery, especially if it would be spontaneous. We should be able to control how AI considers its own personality, but at the same time a super intelligence should be able to decide this for itself.
In case of alien created AI we have even less basis to go by. The BETA might as well have intelligence to view their bodies as disposable ones that they inhabit but are not necessary part of their self. Perhaps a destroyed BETA with intact brains gets its brain reused as-is rather than needing to go through the recycling process that humans and other carbon based lifeforms have. Perhaps there’s a general psychic link that governs all strain-specific BETA units but acts on per individual level. BETA, when low on energy, do seek the closest Reactor automatically. How they recognise where the closest one is has been left unanswered, but let’s assume it is similar shared network that exists between Hives and Reactors. This would imply that the link is not physical, and we could assume that it has something to do with the psychic link the Superordinate could establish with Yashiro Kasumi, similar to what 00 Unit Kagami Sumika unwillingly and unknowingly shared with the Reactors. While there is no proof, the idea of a semi-universal artificial hive intelligence coordinating some BETA strains is an interesting thought. However, it is more probable that each BETA unit had their own intelligence in order to keep the whole point of reference with computer equipment and the TSFs.
We can say for certain that the tool AI used in Tactical Surface Fighters doesn’t have enough intelligence to have a sense of self. This is expected, as the whole learning computer element is very much something that exists in Mobile Suit Gundam and is about as explored as in that franchise. However, we don’t know whether or not future TSF will have more general AI in them, and whether or not they would be tied to a Fighter or the learning computer. It would make sense that it would it would be both, being able to adapt to the pilot’s style and something that could be transferred between machines. This kind of AI probably would require some simulation time to learn a new machine. With this approach, this theoretical general intelligence would be similar to Knight Rider‘s KITT or Full Metal Panic!’s AL, as both have been showcased to be able to be transferred to a new “body” without much problems in end-functionality. It’d be just there to help the pilot, as well as converse. Depending on how advanced the TSF AI ends up being, it should’t be impossible to write a romance story between a TSF AI and an artificial person. Silicon love.
I doubt the series will ever address what kind of self-awareness BETA AI has if any, but that’s not really an issue that the franchise wants to concentrate on. Perhaps a small spin-off in the future could be build around the ramifications of creating super intelligence based on human brains harvested by the BETA. While building a working 00 Unit during what can be argued to be the most crucial moment in the human-BETA war, afterwards the issue of super intelligence monopoly and the psychic power elements it brings with itself are as crucial as the issue of necessitating killing a person for brain to be emulated. Arguments can go anywhere between committing a murder to giving a new chance in proper life. 00 Unit method of brain emulation also side steps an issue, where an individuals consciousness could be stored and re-used from a default state time and time again, as it necessitates destruction of the original brain and the artificial brain can’t be powered down without total loss of data. The BETA don’t have any problems about recycling materials, so whatever ethical protocols govern their actions do not apply. After 00 unit, the series should apply itself to discuss the morals of destructive brain emulation, if future of the franchise will see more of them. Depending the source of the intelligence, the end result may be total breakdown of he psyche, from which recovery is impossible. If that would be the case, would it be ethical to simply cut the power from the emulation, still try to work with the psyche, or maybe even try to change the emulated target itself? In principle, with enough understanding of the technology and how the brains work, it should be possible to modify the emulated target to circumvent any issues regarding self-awareness, which again opens a whole new can-o-worms.