Nov 032011

Yeah, yeah, yeah. AI right-for-life and justice and all that stuff went down during this Un-Go two-parter. But I wanna talk about the “cliffhanger” from last week’s episode first. That was fucking awesome.

The “mystery” to last week’s episode was pretty obvious. Dude makes robots, so the culprit had to be a robot. Like we’ve established before, Un-Go ain’t about the actual mysteries but all the other craziness going on around said mysteries. And the matter-of-fact way that the mystery was revealed was borderline brilliant. It’s one part timing and one part awesome exploitation of banality: The episode ends with the main dude dead-panning the revelation that the murder victim was a RAI all along, tapping on a computer cabinet. With that cue, a text sequence scrolls across the computer’s display, and it’s written in the sort of banal cutesy manner you expect someone to use in a throwaway IM. And BAM! cut to the end credits.

The episode could have easily played out this moment with a good deal more drama and suspense. It could have tried to make this moment shocking. For the most part, we the audience saw this coming, and by having this moment play out in such a subdued, nonchalant manner helps alleviate that somewhat. The revelation is still seen from a mile away, but we aren’t hit over the head with its non-existent surprise.

At the same time, it helps ground the existence of artificial intelligence in Un-Go’s world. We already know about the existence of AIs in this world, but we haven’t been shown just how accepted the concept is among the public. It isn’t some groundbreaking concept for the characters, it’s as familiar to them as an iPod is to us– the sort of thing that seems alien to people not familiar with it but seems perfectly natural to those in the know. And it’s touches like this that help build the world’s vibe in a far better manner than endless exposition and the like. It may be shocking that this particular person was a RAI, but the existence of such things isn’t.

And that plays into the sort of thing that this week’s episode deals with. The Moe Sucks peeps do a good job of detailing all of that, so go check their shit out. But one way that accepting AIs as an equal form of intelligence is the acceptance of them as something mundane. By using them as a purely exploitative contraption– for violent bloodsport and extreme sexual gratification– you’re denying these AIs the potential to be accepted. And little touches like the one I mentioned above help paint the picture in favor of this acceptance that seems to be a major point of the series.

And I dig where they’re going with why the RAIs were outlawed. The government hides behind the veil of morality, claiming that the exploitative use of these robots will harm society (Which is a point the series seems to support to some degree.), but that’s just an excuse for them to have a monopoly on the technology. The Japanese government wants to weaponize them, which is never a good thing in sci-fi. You may be morally corrupting the public by allowing these robots to be some sort of unneeded hedonistic, sociopathic release, but when you turn an AI into a weapon, you always get a Terminator or a Hal 9000 or some other human-killing abomination.

So the government wants sole control of a technology that the public wants to exploit for its own selfish ends. Sounds kinda like the internet, don’t it?

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