Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 6

Alicization doesn’t pull any stops for its explanation of the Soul Translator Machine and their end goal of developing a bottom up artificial intelligence. In a flurry of answers and light reflecting off his glasses, Mr. Kikuoka reveals the project’s workings.

Firstly, Kirito is indeed there, linked into a full spec STL machine. Unfortunately, his brain activity is pretty much a lost cause. However, RATH is a state of the art facility in the middle of the ocean, equipped with the only machine that could rebuild his brain activity from nothing. I’m sure the science behind this is probably bonkers, but Kikuoka claims that stimulating Kirito’s fluctlight through the STL will spark a generation of a new neural network. Now this is a really elaborate way to make Kirito be the hero of another fantasy world, but I’m actually very interested. Initially, I was only excited for the episodes featuring Kirito and Eugeo’s exploits, but getting an actually decent explanation for the real life stakes has sparked my interest in reality.

The second big point Mr. Kikuoka brings up is his goal to develop a bottom up artificial intelligence. He goes on for a while, describing the difference between a top to bottom and bottom to up intelligence. The Lightcube is also brought into notice, being the only thing capable of storing as much data as the human brain. Now this is a Chekov’s Gun if I’ve ever seen one, and I’m curious as to how it’ll apply in the future. That’s probably a long time from now though.

The big bombshell however, is the problem that Mr. Kikuoka called Rinko for. I knew things were going to be a bit grey from the very moment artificial intelligence was brought up, but the display that Kikuoka shows was something else. A perfect copy of Hida’s fluctlight, trapped in the computer, refusing to accept that it’s a copy. In quite the sobering display, the fluctlight implodes on itself, unable to accept its terrible existence.

The solution that Kikuoka presents is to raise the fluctlights of infants from scratch, thus removing the possibility of them imploding under the pressure of being a copy. Things get extremely out of scale as Kikuoka explains that he’s already created a massive civilization simulation using artificial fluctlights. Personally, having control over a simulation like that seems like the absolute dream. The Sims 50. Kikuoka has succeeded in his goal of developing bottom up artificial intelligence, but has a problem with all the fluctlights not committing murder. Lo and behold, he wants to develop artificial intelligence with the ability to kill.

That’s where Kirito comes in, a human with his real life memories blocked, will he be able to change something? He does. Asuna takes this top secret information and immediately logs into Alfheim to tell the rest of Kirito’s harem. I would think Mr. Kikuoka would be a bit wary of information leaks, but I guess not.

The final part of the episode revolves around Rinko, revealing her history with Kayaba. In a relatively short sequence, we’re told of Rinko’s interest in the disheveled Kayaba from the start, and how she loved him. With just a few flashes of their time dating, we’re given a solid understanding of their chemistry. With a bit timid, work focused Kayaba, and the assertive Rinko. Which is why it does hurt to hear how it went down when Kayabe started the Aincrad incident. “What am I going to do with you,” is the signature quote we learn of Kayaba, and I have a slight feeling it’ll be relevant in the future. Rinko apologizes to Asuna for everything that went down in Aincrad, but Asuna says it’s okay, she met Kirito there after all.

This episode is pretty much entirely data spilling and exposition, but I am remarkably fascinated. If I wasn’t so into the show already, this episode might’ve bored me, but luckily I’m a big fan! Very much looking forward to next week.

Fuzzy

Legend of the Galactic Heroes elitist and devourer of ramen noodles

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6 Responses

  1. jsyschan says:

    Man…to be fair, I can’t watch this until it’s free on Crunchyroll, so I’m just going off by what I read about the episode. Things are very different than how they’re played out in the novel. If you don’t mind me posting a little spoiler or two, I’d like to compare some things about the novel, not that they really would change much here. I can’t really tag them here cause I don’t know how.

    Spoiler

    First off, Kikuoka never took Kirito in the previous episode so directly by approaching his family. He just took him to save him, though I’m unsure whether he had plans for Kirito to continue with the Project. Honestly, in a way, he reminds me of Urahara, always in the background knowing more than anyone else. Asuna only found out that it was him once she got onto the Ocean Turtle.

    In the novel, Asuna was very deductive in the situation, as Kirito explained lots of it at the Dicey Cafe in the first episode. Asuna managed to come to realizations without being told by Kikuoka, including the newborns and why the project needed Kirito and his experience in a Full Dive environment, which is pretty cool of her as a character. Also, she never really told the gang about what happened to Kirito like this in an effort to not make them worry (only Suguha and Sinon); in all honesty, you were pretty spot on about the idea of information leaks. Also, (again, I don’t know if they covered this), she also found out the truth about the FLA; unlike what Kirito said about 3 days, it was 10 years. Big difference.

    One last spoiler that I wanted to mention here was how she was adamant in the fact that had Kirito knew about his plans, then he would have not helped at all, due to their beliefs in the rights of AI, referencing that incident back in episode 5 of the Aincrad arc. Nice shoutout, but it really shows how Kirito influenced Asuna and changed her beliefs.

    With this, how does that make you feel about the changes made thus far? Do they make you view certain characters in a different light? I know that making cuts is normal in adaptations, but I wonder if by doing so you’re leaving out some character development, or at least reinforcement of characters that we already know and love.

    Also, Rinko looks kind of adorable in an apron.

    • Fuzzy says:

      It’s not so surprising to me that Kikuoka just took Kirito. It’s become pretty clear after episode six the dedication he has for this mission, especially considering how he’s been trying to accomplish it for a very long time. I feel like he’s not a bad person, just strongly rooted in what he believes to be the right methodology to do what he has to do. I’m very curious as to how his character will progress in the future episodes, since the story structure makes it very easy for him to become a psuedo-villain.

      Asuna telling the gang about everything was quite a big deal. I was checking other forums and people were flipping out as to why that scene was created, sorta undermining the top secret nature of the entire project. It’s good to know that it wasn’t the case in the original novels. I think Asuna was pretty deductive in this episode as well, easily following up on whatever Kikuoka was hinting at. I didn’t focus too much about it on the blog post, but although the explanation was ~70% from Kikuoka’s side, the other 30% stemmed from Asuna and Rinko’s logical conclusions. Thank goodness Asuna is both smart and resourceful.

      Asuna also mentions in this episode how Kirito would never go along with this project if he knew about the truth. With quite the determined voice, she asserts very strongly that Kirito would never do it. After all these years together, it’s no surprise she could say it with such conviction. I’m sure if her and Kirito were to switch spots, it’d be the same both ways.

      I think the adaptation seems to be doing alright with bringing the source material to life, adding a bit of unnecessary fluff like Asuna and the gang scene. But overall, most of what you said was indeed the case in the anime episode. I think it’s mostly because I didn’t write too much about the specifics, and it almost sounds like Kikuoka was talking the entire time. I’ll work on it next episode!

      • jsyschan says:

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions after all.

        Ok, I’ll admit, I caved a bit and found the episode online, so I watched it there. Man….given how I’ve read the source, there’s not much I can really say to follow up on this. It’s a shame that she didn’t back up her conviction with her example, but I suppose that it’s established that we all love Asuna’s character. Imagine how the old Asuna back in the start of episode 7 would act towards Yui. I’d also say that they can solidify their reasoning due to Yui.

        Yeah, that talk with gang really was a bit off given the circumstances. I won’t spoil how to leave your imagination running, but I will say that the information was presented in a different way, just not to the gang like you said.

        What bugged me was that there was no realization about Asuna and Kirito’s part time job, specifically one aspect of it. I’ll admit, I haven’t been following this show (Zombieland Saga FTW), so I’m not sure if episode 1 mentioned it, but I did mention it in the spoilers. That realization…really gave me the chills when I first read it. In a way, this project is like playing God…but to what cost?

  2. zztop says:

    A lot of the stuff discussed here reminded me of HBO TV series Westworld, which also involved AI/robots being created for ulterior purposes by a corporation.
    Have you seen it before?

    That said, Kikuoka and Rath come off as the lesser evil with their ambitions of national defense without the human cost, compared to the Delos Corp of Westworld – more greedy and ruthless in selling the AIs as sexbot fun/robo-immortality projects to awful rich people, whilst being pricks to the robots in general. Small wonder they revolted there.

    • Fuzzy says:

      Big fan of Westworld, especially its soundtrack! That also came to mind when I was watching this episode as well, along with some Blade Runner vibes. The AI discussion is actually such an interesting topic with a whole lot of grey, so I’m very interested as to how Kirito and Asuna are going to approach the entire situation. Will they disagree with it all, advocating for the rights of AI? Or will they realize the potential benefits and let it happen? Perhaps a compromise?

      Either way, stoked to see what happens.

      • zztop says:

        Nice to see another Westworld fan!! Anthony Hopkins was the best part IMO.

        The scene with Higa’s fluctlight breaking down reminded me of Westworld’s James Delos robot, which also kept breaking down multiple times until his aging, sadistic son-in-law got fed up.

        PS. The only thing missing to complete the picture’s a Robert Ford-like scientist gliding around Rath, acting like he knows the bigger picture and eloquently insulting Kikuoka for abusing his technology…

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