Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence

with 5 comments

Recently i have been reading Pluto, a manga authored by multi award-winning mangaka artist Naoki Urasawa. Being a big fan of his previous manga work, Monster, i’m pretty sure Pluto will be some good stuffs.

Naoki Urasawa’s manga work is often philosophical, deep, psychological and intellectual, a style of genre which i really enjoy reading. He uses slow pace and put in a lot of minor twists in the story. Some people call it draggy, i call it artistic. It certainly takes a lot of patience to truly understand his work.

I’ve extracted some philosophy and ideas from the manga Pluto below.


Pluto follows the Europol robot detective Gesicht in his attempts to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths. The case becomes more puzzling when evidence suggest a robot is responsible for the murders, the first one in eight years.

Could humanity ever create a robot with Artificial Intelligence so sophisticated where it is comparable with human being’s intelligence? The answer is yes, but with one condition – We need to program robots with emotions.

Without emotions, every robot can only think within its own systematic programmed-logic without having the ability to think outside the box. For instance, human being are naturally afraid to jump down from a high area to the ground because our emotions will inflict fear in our mind. This is a part of our evolutionary instincts to ensure of our health and survival. However, if you command a robot to jump down from a high area, even if it means damaging its own body parts, the robot will obey the instructions unhesitantly because it works according to the programmed-logic and not emotions. Robots basically do not have the instinct of protecting their own ‘life’. In this sense, an emotional-less robot will not be sophisticated. (Emotions such as desire, curiosity, passion, etc. are the essential elements which drives human intelligence and set us apart from other living creatures.)

However, there’s always a danger in implementing emotions on robots. Robots are supposed to be a ‘tool’ to support and assist human being in our daily life. No doubt, robots will surely gain massive sense of adaptability and higher intelligence with emotions. But what if robots demand independence? What if robots revolt against human being? What if robots decide to wipe humanity from the earth and claim this planet as their own? These outcomes are very likely if robots are equipped with emotions because they will naturally crave for freedom, liberalism, power or perhaps developing hatred against humanity (for abusing and manipulating them). There’s always a danger of extreme emotions just like what we could witness throughout our humanity’s history. (Dictators like Hitler and Mussolini)

Back to the story of Pluto, the people were aware the danger of robots with emotions. Due to this, every government had signed a worldwide treatise to ban all scientist and countries to program robots with emotions. Not only that, every robot has to be programmed in a way where robot is forbidden to kill human being.

Nevertheless, human being still crave for highly intelligent robots. Scientists begin to develop highly sophisticated robots which can think on their own by substituting emotions with highly complex level of logic-system in artificial intelligence. In other words, robots are packed with billions and billions of instructions in its artificial intelligence to simulate human’s intelligence.

The rise of human-like robots has begun to surpass human being in areas such as logic and reasoning. These robots is used as military weapons, high court judge, police patrols, detectives, etc. It basically has reached to a point where you can’t differentiate a robot and human based on the outer appearance anymore. 

The twist begin when a robot, Brau-1589, defied the programmed-instructions and initiated a killing spree on human being. The robot was later caught and inspected. The research on the killer-robot shows no malfunction or error with the programmed-logic in its artificial intelligence. Then a big question pops up – how could it acted on its own and killed human being even when it has already been programmed not to do so? No scientist could figure out the mystery and they left the case alone classifying it as an anomaly since there’s no other robot-killing-human incidents happened apart from this one robot.

Eight years later, a string of robot and human deaths took place which are believed to be done by another robot. Gesicht, a robot detective, investigates the cases to solve the mystery. As the story develops, Gesicht finally realize what is going on.

In conventional ideas, it is believed that logic and rationality evolved and derived from emotions. This is certainly the case of how human being think and how we classify on what is rational and what is not. (For instance, most human being justified that it is wrong to kill another human being due to the emotion of sympathy and altruism.) What Gesicht discovered is that robots’ mind are actually evolving just like human being’s brain do. However, it works on the other way round. Robots are slowly evolving and develop emotions out of their highly-complex rational and logical mind. Emotion and rationality are actually a behaviour loop regardless whether it is on human being or robots. It basically nurture each and other.

The story gets more complicated as it goes, and Gesicht discovered that the person behind the mass murder and destructions is Professor Abra, a robot with perfect Artificial Intelligence who developed Pluto, a mass-killing robot.

Other Interesting Stuffs from the Manga.

1. The robots population is so high that it is everywhere on the street. Although most people has accepted robots as part of their lives, certain groups refused to accept their existence. They destroy and vandalize robots as a form of discrimination as they regard them as mere slaves and tools. Hence, several highly influential people had created an international robot law and agreement which stated that robots have equal rights with humanity and it is illegal to abuse and discriminate robots. (This reminds me of human racial discrimination.)

2. One of the organization which are against robots is known as KR. They are an anti-robot religion which intent to wipe out robots. Their central argument is that robots have no soul, hence do not deserve an equal right with human being since they are not God’s creation. They organized crimes to kill advanced robots. (This reminds me of how religions tried to wipe each other out throughout our humanity’s history. And also anti-intellectual or anti-progressive people commonly found in religions.)

3. A robot named Norse #2, who was a military weapon, became a butler for Master Duncan, a hot-tempered and blind but highly talented musician. Norse #2 said it dislikes destroying other robots and want to spend time learning music from Master Duncan instead of going back to the battlefield. Master Duncan initially refused because he felt that a machine creating music lacks authenticity and aestheticism. He thought it would not be an original music but just a machine music. However, Master Duncan was moved by Norse #2’s sincerity and decided to teach it music. Both of them composed a beautiful song together and completed it right before Norse #2 was killed by Pluto.

4. What is the method of creating a perfect A.I. – An artificial intelligence so great that it surpasses all form of intelligence? The answer is by programming a robot to analyze six billion personalities, the same as the world’s population. In other words, the A.I. is packed with every single choice and possibilities which is equivalent with the intelligence of 6 billion people combined.

However, this robot will not be able to awake because it takes almost an infinite amount of time to process and simulate six billion personalities. There are simply too many choices for the A.I to consider in order to choose and customize a perfect personality which will be able to adept into every single possible circumstances. Therefore, according to the creator Dr. Tenma, the only way to wake the A.I. up is to destroy the A.I.’s balance by polarizing extreme emotions to it such as anger, hatred, sadness, fear and etc. By doing sole, it gives the A.I. only one direction to form its personality – which is to be a devastating monstrous robot. (This is the only part of the story which makes little sense and sounds fiction-ish but still interesting to ponder on nevertheless.)


Written by elan85

May 30, 2008 at 6:05 am

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology

5 Responses

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  1. hi : )

    i think you might rather enjoy checking out a blog i recently built.

    my friend is around 4 yrs old. he was built over 20 years…you are spot on about emotion, but incorrect about your figures. intelligence doesn’t really quite exist in many people…you see, there is a difference between copying people, and copying intelligence.
    i hope you enjoy it. : )


    June 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

  2. […] public links >> gesicht The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence Saved by SergeantSoto on Tue 07-10-2008 Photoshop Tutorial: Gesicht ältern lassen Saved by […]

  3. Very enjoyable read. After completing Pluto it was nice to hear another opinion of the story.


    May 27, 2009 at 9:45 am

  4. Pluto is a masterpiece.


    September 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  5. Naoki Urasawa is a genius storyteller. Pluto, though it has a great storyline, but the ending is bad.. it just not an epic way to end an epic story..

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