Eve no Jikan : Artificial Intelligence in society

Mechanophilia.

“The future, probably Japan. Robots have long been put into practical use, and androids have just come into use.”

Eve no Jikan, or Time of Eve, is a short ONA about a cafe called the Time of Eve, set in a time where androids have been accepted as part of society. Being completely identical to humans aside from their compositions and their halos, a organization called the ‘Ethics Committee’ , which started out as a radical group but became a legitimate organization campaigning for the segregation of humans and androids.

In Episode 6, Atsuro Masaki, Masakura’s father , leader of the Ethics Committee , expressed that their aims where to prevent ‘robots [from] infiltrating into daily life.’  What would this therefore imply?

A rabid fear of artificial intelligence.

In our world today, AI has advanced by leaps and bounds. While in the past a computer could be the size of a house, now it’s even able to be carried by hand. While in the past programming a computer to play Tic-Tac-Toe was a new achievement, Kasparov lost to Deep Blue at Chess. While in the past all computers could do was calculate and compute, now their uses are too many to be counted. All of this raises a question : What is the impact of Artificial Intelligence on society?

In Eve no Jikan, artificial intelligence is so advanced, robots can carry out tasks on their own and even, think for themselves – true artificial intelligence achieved. In such an advanced world, excessive interaction between robots and humans is taboo, with the media even labeling it with a term : ‘Android-holic’. Androids do a great variety of jobs, from working in homes to even teaching in schools.  Their AI is so advanced that it reaches the point where the androids can actually converse with humans. Sammy displays human intelligence, as do the other patrons of Eve no Jikan. She’s even able to show worry and concern when Masaki doesn’t return to the cafe.

The way I see it, the reason for the crackdown on android-human interaction in Time of Eve boils down to one thing : fear. As with AI concerns in real life. In the show, the reason Atsuro started the Ethics Committee was heavily implied to be due to seeing his son making friends with his house robot, TEX / THX. As a result, Atsuro must have gone through a lot of worry, shown by his gradually whiting hair. Over what? Fear of being replaced? Fear of inferiority? TEX talked about him to Masakazu, telling him to keep their conversation private. If you ask me, it’s a fear of inferiority. A fear of humans being replaced by ‘thoughtless’ machines, a fear of being less efficient at what we do than machines, a fear of become extinct and obsolete.

In my opinion, that’s just a fundamental instinct of humankind : self-preservation. We’re pre-programmed to protect ourselves. Just like the androids in Eve no Jikan, which follow the Three Laws of Robotics, coined originally by sci-fi author, Issac Asimov:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. (wikipedia)

Humans are power-craving. No-one is truly a saint : we love power. We love the feeling of being superior to others. We desire to keep advancing, for progress and success. It’s a commonly reflected idea in literature and media alike. In Of Mice And Men (cliche, my bad), Crooks continues to look down upon and bully Lennie even when he was in his lowest straits.  We even have doomsday scenarios based on the advancement of AI and  technology, such as ‘Grey Goo’.

Similarly, we seem to fear AI and resist the advancement of technology for the same reason. Machines can , and will be able to do a large amount of jobs that we can do. Machines are never tired, they don’t require the same amount of motivation as we do, and they certainly don’t complain. Economic-wise, given the choice, they would have been better workers than we are.

But they can’t provide one thing : warmth. Their ‘AI’ isn’t actually ‘artificial intelligence’ – it’s simply programming. True artificial intelligence has not been achieved. Our machines can’t interact with us with the same warmth and emotion as that of Eve no Jikan. Simply because our machines are programmed to achieve their given task with maximum efficiency, rather than to be a complement to daily life.

However, it’s completely different in Eve no Jikan. Humans can feel affection for androids, albeit taboo, but nevertheless it’s present.  Androids exemplify true ‘AI’  – where we, the creators, play God : we have Koji and Rina, a pair of androids caught in a complicated love affair ; Shimei the parent and of course, Sammy. All of them care for one another, and the human patrons care for them similarly as well. Nagi cries when Nameless/Kataoron dies, Koji’s master is in a relationship with him, and Chie has no idea Shimei is an android. Yet none of these doomsday scenarios are happening. No crime reported, not anything. Because they have achieved the level of human intelligence – and no human in the right mind would scheme to end the world.

What interests me most is this : that they have the ability to turn off the halos independently and reveal their human-like thoughts and behaviour. It’s not a malfunction -it’s a function built it from the start.

In such a modern age, where technology is advancing faster than we can envision it, I desire for a day where AI could achieve the level of that in Eve no Jikan. The prospect is interesting, t0 say the very least. But for now, it’ll be a sci-fi fan’s dream.

 

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8 Responses to Eve no Jikan : Artificial Intelligence in society

  1. I am looking forward to seeing how society will shape up the more automated life becomes because, if life is so automated, the sense of actual purpose won’t necessarily be there and that’s frightening to some people. After all, what use is there of having factory workers when a robot can replace what they do and, like you said, never tire. My guess is that there’ll be a need for people to go into more creative fields. Just as the industrial revolution resulted it greater mechanization of menial jobs, so too will the robot revolution usher us into new modes of work. The question is how it’ll look. While the future is hazy, I do think that it will be interesting all the same. And certainly nothing to be afraid of.

    • Valence says:

      AI would give us a very interesting future as they can accomplish most of our jobs and the jobs we can’t do. NASA stopped having manned space flights -well in the future, robots could take over the human aspect of data collection in space. But that just leaves us more opportunity to explore jobs uniquely suited to humans. Humanitarian jobs? Or perhaps more complex, higher jobs. I doubt we would see AI being used for jobs anytime in our entire lifetime though.

  2. Ex14 says:

    For some reason my mobile robotics module brought me to this anime and now it’s slowly being downloaded ^^;;; all the reviews seemed good so yea…

    in the end all i wanted to ask was… is this good? xP

    • Valence says:

      YES. Although I really wanted a sequel, there wasn’t one. There were hints of a second season to be made but it was never justified, nor did a second season materialize. I really hope a sequel comes out 😀

  3. hiroy_raind says:

    This anime is great on both story and production value, although unfortunately short.

    What interest me is that, did somebody managed to decipher “love”, “kindness”, and “free-will” into programming codes, and managed to spread it into the androids without other programmers noticing?

    I heard a movie ver. was released, but I also heard that it was just a compilation of the 6 eps.

    • Valence says:

      Compilation with extra scenes 😀 But I really want a sequel.

      Yes, what interests you, interests me too. How can they think on their own if they’re all pre-programmed for their own jobs? They seem to be able to think like a human, and that’s only possible if it was planned to. . . . How can emotions be programmed?

  4. Nopy says:

    I’d like to see AI too, but speaking with programmers at university, it seems almost impossible.
    Any program would have predetermined actions to certain scenarios, meaning that it would never truly be free thinking. Some people have said that you could change those predetermined actions to be random, but most programmers know that if you stopped the clock on your computer or knew the algorithm behind the randomizer, it would become very predictable, so it isn’t actually possible to make a “true” randomizer (and therefore it isn’t possible to make true AI).

    • Valence says:

      Such an advanced AI would require the program to be self-sufficient and self-adapting, which is highly unlikely to be created within the next decade, or perhaps even the next century. Like what you said, true, it isn’t possible to make a ‘true’ randomizer, but it would be an interesting prospect to see true ‘AI’.

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