Baldr Sky and Artificial Intelligence

ss (2014-07-28 at 03.26.41)I wish that I may understand all of you, and I wish that you all may understand us.-

As I mentioned in my first impressions post on Dive 1, the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) is a central concept to Baldr Sky. For a short background: artificial intelligence in Baldr Sky comes in two forms: the inorganic AI, represented by the Baldr System supercomputer in the basement of Midspire; and the biological AI, represented by Eve and her subunit in Seishuu Academy, Mother. Once artificial intelligence was discovered, a technological race began between the two AI systems, the goal being an AI possessing qualia, believed to be the mark of similar intelligence that humans also possess. By the time of protagonist Kadokura Kou’s high school days, the biological AI managed to obtain qualia, leaving the Baldr System obsolete while Eve becomes responsible for managing the daily lives of the Union’s citizens.

However, the distrust for artificial intelligence runs deep: sympathizers to the anti-AI cause have come up with “Alienist” as a slur for those who depend on AI in their daily lives. Even some those who rely on AI for their daily lives have doubts towards the AI. Things only get worse when the Grey Christmas occurs – did the AI governing the Assembler and Gungnir’s security system run berserk, leading to the tragedy in Kurahama City? Are the AI actually plotting against humanity?

If you haven’t caught on yet, Baldr Sky’s conflict hinges on a central argument in the philosophy of AI: the strong AI vs. weak AI debate. I’ll spare the details as I’m no expert myself, but the fundamental question is whether an artificially-intelligent machine can actually understand the decisions it makes – can a machine that responds to the user in Chinese sentences when spoken to in Chinese actually understand the conversation? Baldr Sky takes a step further and asks: can two completely different intelligent beings remove the gap in understanding between them?

The short answer that Baldr Sky gives is yes, humans and AI can come to an understanding. But there wouldn’t be a blog post if it was that simple, would there? What makes Baldr Sky special is how it arrives at that answer. And what a long ride it is.

(Spoiler Warning: I will be spoiling the whole of Sora’s route in this post. Needless to say, turn back now if you’re planning on reading Baldr Sky in the future.)

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Baldr Sky Dive 1: First Impressions

ss (2014-06-25 at 05.03.25)Expecting the start to another peaceful day at his dormitory, Lieutenant Kou Kadokura instead wakes up to the sound of gunfire in the battlefield. His trusted partner had dragged him to safety after being caught in an explosion. But Kou can’t remember his partner’s name; in fact, he can’t even remember what he had been doing until now – in his mind, he had been living out his high school days in peace.

So begins Baldr Sky, Giga TEAM BALDRHEAD’s 2009 entry into their series of action games known as the Baldr Series. Taking place far into the future, where humanity’s nations had united, technology has advanced to the point where humans can be connected through the internet 24/7. But peace remains elusive – though the unification of nations has stopped worldwide conflicts, civil wars, strife, and general discontent remain rampant. Wars no longer take place in the real world, but in the virtual world, fought through machines known as shumicram (シュミクラム).

After being woken up in the battlefield, Kou begins to gather fragments of his missing memories, at one point finally remembering the reason why he became a soldier. On the 24th of December, a leakage of dangerous nanomachines known as the Assembler pollutes an area near his hometown, killing Sora Minazuki – one of Kou’s most important friends (though he can’t quite remember just how precious she is to him). To prevent further damage, the orbital weapon known as Gungnir activates, roasting the city off the map.

Baldr Sky Dive 1 is Kou’s search for the truth behind the incident known as the Grey Christmas.

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