Are the BETA a form of life?

In my post Artificial Intelligence in Muv-Luv from a few years back I introduced the idea of the BETA to be a superintelligence, an artificial intelligence construct that is superior in speed and processing power to general intelligence, or human level AI. The stance that the BETA is a biological equivalent of human build machinery in practice stems from the Visual Novel itself, though Yoshimune Koki has mentioned in one of the streams âge does that the BETA on Earth were somehow faulty in their action. However, this post will ignore this, as author intent can change at any moment and what we know of BETA via official materials does not corroborate this to any significant measure. The closest thing we have is their homing sense towards silicon chips, which wouldn’t really do well if the Siliconians were present. Why would you create excavation units to violently home towards your own kind? This post will cross some topics covered with the post linked previously, but the core of the topic is very much different.

The BETA do not consider themselves a form of life, which must be a pre-programmed state. This is because the BETA can be assumed to be constructs of the Siliconians similar to how humans construct vehicles and other machinery, including computers. Each individual BETA outside the Superordinate have tool AI. They are akin to chess computer Deep Blue in that they are able to execute decisions based on pre-established patterns and motions. The BETA on Earth are mostly excavation tools, and pretty much everything in their path is matter to be collected and transformed in order to produce more BETA or to be sent back to the home planetary system in a transformed form.

The BETA, or rather the Superordinate, is an equivalent of Deep Blue’s staff who go over information gathered from the rest of the BETA and able to device new plans and actions. The best example for its creative thinking is its early rollout of Laser Class BETA as anti-air against planes, which gave the BETA an effective air superiority without flying units. The Laser Class most likely was never intended to be used as a warfare unit, but the particle beam it emits could be used an effective fly swatter of sorts. Later on, we’d see the Laser Fort Class, which was modified to ignore other BETA in its line of fire. Whether or not the BETA on Earth had a databank of warfare units and Laser Fort Class is something Superordinate pulled out, or if it was a new unit built based on existing unit data combined to make a haphazard combat unit, is unknown.

Each BETA thus has to have some equivalent of the brain inside them, but outside the Superordinate, are designed not to be creative thinkers. Hence the automaton comparison, and deduction that the BETA are not alive. In the modern era, we do not consider machines to be alive. They fulfil no requirements we set for life in this sense. They perceive themselves not to be alive constructs. Whatever the BETA definition of life, or their creators’, ultimately is, it does include the ability to revive from an inert state. The example for this is towards the end of Muv-Luv Alternative, where the Superordinate requires a proof that mankind is a form of life, producing a ripped body and demanding it be returned to the state to activation.

We can infer from this that the BETA, and by this extension the Siliconians, consider the ability to boot oneself into an active state from the inert state as one determining measure for life. This is analogous how computers can be powered on and off, something that can’t be done for either BETA or humans. In this sense, the 00 Unit is a paradox for the BETA, where her nature as a silicon-based lifeform due to her android status via full-body prosthesis still requires her to be fully active at all times, as running out of power leads to total scale failure of the full brain emulation 00 Units employ. 00 Units, despite their machine nature, can’t be rebooted from what we’ve seen, and death is as permanent as with humans and BETA.

The view that the BETA are not alive is a view from the Siliconians have installed in their constructs. Nevertheless, from the human point of view, the BETA can be considered a form of life. The classical view of being a physical entity with biological processes fits their bill, and the BETA actions can be described in animalistic senses, where human-level reasoning is lacking in both intelligence and creative thinking, but still work similarly to animals. For example, the Tank Class, or the Red Little Bastards, behave almost like ants when confronting humans or Tactical Surface Fighters. They tend to cover whatever large object they have with large numbers and begin to rip in. Other BETA have similar animals equivalences, though that can be put for storytelling and meta reasons rather than in-universe explanations, with few exceptions that clearly exhibit Earth-born characteristics the Superordinate has adopted for whatever reasons.

Due to multiple ways life can be defined, the BETA can nevertheless be viewed to be alive even in case of accepting them to be artificial constructs. Humanity perceived the BETA as a form of life, an invading alien force, due to their behaviour. On the surface, the BETA showcase all the necessary points to be considered alive, even if they are smart, and perhaps not even properly sentient. However, just there is a split in the scientific community whether or not viruses constitute a life form, the same goes for the BETA. The individual BETA strains do not seem to be able to reproduce autonomously and require to be built as they don’t manifest all the functions that definition covers.

This is one of the sticking points where the BETA do not fulfill the requirements for biological life. The BETA don’t adapt either to their environments, but rather they are adapted by intelligent design. From what we’ve seen, all BETA strains are of same size and same form, which would hint that the BETA are manufactured, or birthed, in their full form. Perhaps the BETA are formed in a type of artificial abiogenesis, overseen by the Superordinate rather than being born in any fashion. There is no growth for BETA as such, but they are able to be repaired to some extent. Some of the Destroyer Class BETA showcase different patterns on their shells, which indicate areas that have healed from damage. Whether or not this repair is from BETA’s own self-repair function or there is an unseen strain that functions are a medic of sorts is unknown, but I assume Destroyer Class’ shield would indicate self-repair, though just like with Earth-born lifeforms, this self-repair system can easily be overcome.

The BETA can be considered as artificial life, automatons that have processes which resemble or are designed based on biological processes. This is what they essentially are, whether or not it is by coincidence, as constructs. This is mostly engineer speak though, as in common parlance A-Life is mostly a marketing term used to describe things like AI toys and such, like Sony’s Aibo line of products. While we can say that the robot dog toy isn’t alive, we still tend to reflect towards it as if it were. There are numerous companions toys that are designed to just do this, like Hasbro’s Joy for All robotic cat that is intended to act like a very friendly cat to alleviate loneliness people, especially the elderly, experience. While these A-Life toys have been designed to exhibit how real animals may act, so do BETA, at least from the human perspective even if comprehending their core intention eludes.

We could say that the BETA clearly exhibit biological functions that other Earthborn creatures do. This would very much a human perspective, which is in conflict how the Siliconians see the matter. Nevertheless, mankind’s tendency to see life where there is none, like in cars and electrical outlet, puts all the above in question. This is because it is all about perspective and how we want to regard things. For example, some people already consider cars as if they were alive, with them having their own quirks and little things they do that set them apart from other cars. They behave in a certain manner. The same applies to computers, which use an extensive library of different kinds of tool AI to assist the user. They too have different behaviours that might be exhibited throughout their span of life, some of which are completely unique to one specific computer. You often find people talking to machines like they were alive. While nowadays we don’t consider the run-of-the-mill computer to be alive, this might not be the case in the future.

The future generations will live in more information spread world than what we do now. This will require more various kinds of AIs to be used across the board, which will turn machines to be more personable. Assistants like Siri already make phones sound like you’re talking to a person and their sophisticated AI routines aim to make this feel even more real down the line. At some point, there will be a generation that will consider computers to be alive in some sense. Perhaps not wholly scientific, but the definition of life has already changed and expanded multiple times. Sure, we could already say that computers are artificial life, even if they lack any sort of mimicry of biological life. They might be alien cars, trucks and mining machines for the aliens, but that doesn’t keep mankind from extending the same personifications towards the BETA in the exact same manner you talk to your computer. (Chances are you more often speak to the screen, which is effectively “the face” of your computer.)

On the surface, the BETA do exhibit necessary functions to be called their own form of life among others. Even when taking into notion that they are artificial constructs, they exhibit similar functions to terrestrial life overall. Whatever their method of reproduction is, be it literal construction from raw materials or some kind of multiuse womb they are quickly grown to full maturity, BETA are no of natural origin. I can’t overstate enough that while mankind regards the BETA as a form of life based on history and perspective, the Siliconians are in the opposite. If we extend the comparison of the BETA being nothing but biological machines, Siliconans probably would be about as surprised to find how a random connections of carbons have managed to form something that resemblances sentience, and even weirder, managed to construct life forms with limited sentience. In the end, whether or not the BETA are a form of life still ends up being a matter of opinion and viewpoint, depending on which side of the argument convinces you the most.

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