[Let's Watch!] Kaiba: what is memory?

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Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:29 pm

One thing I actually found really interesting about this episode was how bizarre it looked. I mean, all of Kaiba looks bizarre but this looks extremely different even in comparison to the rest of the show. I thought that was an interesting way Yuasa used his visuals for something other than "I'm Yuasa so it will look strange."

But yeah, with the info at 'dat ending I am going to assume we will have some plotting now that we've done quite a bit of world building and concept-exploring.
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Postby Maokun » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:16 am

That's because episode 5 was clearly this series "budget episode". ugh. Animation was reaally poor, stills rushed-looking, etc; and the episode itself wasn't as good either. The narrative was extremely fragmented and the dialogue kept to a minimum except in bursts of confusing expository monologues, random plot devices were employed to drag the story around... very disappointing all in all, but then again most budget episodes are.

I wish it hadn't been like that as the episode introduced another interesting issue to the collection this particular universe has to offer: If you can keep your memories and replace/fix/upgrade your body ad-nauseum through the centuries, there will be a point where you will be unable to create new memories as your mind is absolutely packed full.

At the very least they threw a vital piece of information by the end of the episode so it didn't feel all like a waste of time. [spoiler]So should we understand that Warp/Kaiba is extremely old? I mean, if Patch, the creator of the bio-technology that permits the creation and replacement of new bodies is several hundred years old, the creator of the memory containers must be even older.[/spoiler]
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Postby TheSubtleDoctor » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:51 am

Episode 6

The memories-as-butterflies motif reminds me of a similar one from Cowboy Bebop the movie.

How does "falling in love" with someone work in this world? Is that even possible when mind-body units aren't until death? Do you just fall in lust with a body? Is that what Vanilla is doing? Would he care if someone else's memories were just plunked into Chroniko's body? Some dude's memories, which is essentially the same as saying merely "some dude"?

Disembodied memories aren't "real people." Something about this statement just turns my stomach. Something about separating bodies and memories/souls... I suppose that since that is the core of the show, that would explain why I am continually disturbed by it.

I am glad that the show has the biological affecting the mental. It rings true that the body of a typical man will feel strong attraction to a woman, regardless, I suppose, of its being inhabited by the memoirs of a woman.

The statement that "you'll lose yourself if you remain in a woman's body" is very interesting. I guess the chances of mind and body merging/melding together the longer they remain together. This seems to support the idea that the body matters a great deal to person-hood and to who you are. I like it.

Poor Vanilla...
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Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:44 pm

I think this episode is actually one of my favorites, so far. I think it has done the best show of pushing the plot farther forward while still doing a fantastic job of exploring the concepts and ideas contained within the show.

As for El Subtilus Doctor's thoughts about what love is, that is an interesting one. We've seen multiple times that the idea of love and sex is incredibly twisted in this world, but we've also seen some very genuine, caring people, like the street performer in this episode. I too was really disgusted when they said that bodiless memories aren't people.

I am now convinced Yuasa has something against old married couples that are happy.

Also, Maokun, you don't need to mark spoilers in this thread up to the last episode.
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Postby blkmage » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:21 pm

Maokun (post: 1505724) wrote:I wish it hadn't been like that as the episode introduced another interesting issue to the collection this particular universe has to offer: If you can keep your memories and replace/fix/upgrade your body ad-nauseum through the centuries, there will be a point where you will be unable to create new memories as your mind is absolutely packed full

It necessarily works like that in the real world too. We obviously don't keep all of our memories either, but we don't notice it because we, uh, forget. It's just a consequence of physics. So maybe it isn't that you can't create new memories, but you have nowhere to store them until you offload them somewhere.

A slight tangent, but this train of thought is how my quantum information class began. Even though we like to think of information or data as this abstract idea, it's very much governed and restricted by the laws of physics. You need to keep data somewhere, whether it's on a piece of paper or a hard disk or a brain and all of these things have physical limits. The trick is to come up with efficient ways of recording this information to stretch the limits of whatever we're using to store it.

Coming back to Kaiba and the latest episode, if you think about it, a lot of our "memories" have already left our head simply because there's not enough room for them all. Most of it is in the form of words or photographs (like the old couple was doing for their tour) or audio or video. And it might even be more convenient to have a bunch of your memories tagged with EXIF data in iPhoto or something. In this form, it's pretty safe to say that these disembodied memories aren't people.
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Postby TheSubtleDoctor » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:22 pm

I think equating memories with information is [s]slightly[/s] hugely mistaken. I can see where one would conflate the two, but I think that leads to consequences that are...well, undesirable, IMO.

Information is this sort of raw, objective stuff. Memories are so different than that, so personal. They involve our own subjective feelings and interpretations, the way we perceive and digest things. Two people can remember the same event, process the same stimuli or information and have two completely different memories about that information-event.

Let's think about the woman's memory set that the Kaiba ate. Sure, the information that those memories are "about" isn't a person; nor, I would contend, is the isolated memory, all by itself, a person. However, the collection of experiences that the lady had over the course of her life? I think one can say that such a set is fundamental to her person-hood and to who she is.

Now, we could explore a tangential path, littered with questions like, "If you take a memory from a person and then add a different one, is the containing mind still the same person? How about take two and add two? Three? etc." That path, however, is thorny and filled with headaches.
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Postby blkmage » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:53 pm

Fundamentally, it's all still information. The difference is whether there's enough other information or what other information is in there already to contextualize it. We can think of the sum of peoples' memories as kind of a database of all of the bits of information they've collected over their lifetime.

This is how machine learning works: it takes in some information and does some processing based on a database of things it's already seen and also adds the new thing to its database of old things for later use. Different AIs will act differently on the same input if they have different databases and definitely if they have different algorithms governing their behaviour. And if just having all of the information there isn't enough, the processes by which we behave or decide are also information and can be abstracted into algorithms or Turing machines or whatever.

I think in your example of the lady who got her memories eaten, you only go in one direction. Yes, of course her memories are fundamental to who she is, but does that make her memories a person? Or, going the other way, how much "stuff" do you need to gather before all of that stuff becomes a person?
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Postby Juliannesan » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:51 pm

So, I'm not really watching the show, but I've noticed this train of thought. (Memories and if they are people or what make up a person) in so many other anime as well.

I'm thinking of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, in particular.

I was really confused when everyone was really upset that Sakura lost her memories, because while it's sad to be unable to recall memories or a memory, the person is still a person. Obviously it's different, but the person is still the same person whether they have certain memories or not. I know character builds from experiences, but it's not all a person is.
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Postby blkmage » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:03 pm

It's different in Kaiba because when they talk about memories, they're also including consciousness in there. So if the "memories" of a person leave their bodies in Kaiba, that body becomes a shell with no cognitive function at all.
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Postby TheSubtleDoctor » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:41 pm

blkmage (post: 1505860) wrote:It's different in Kaiba because when they talk about memories, they're also including consciousness in there. So if the "memories" of a person leave their bodies in Kaiba, that body becomes a shell with no cognitive function at all.
Setting aside whether or not memories equal information, I think what you've said here is pretty key to the discussion.

The memory-set in Kaiba is not only a collection of memories but also whatever components are needed to have memories in the first place. Let's call this apparatus consciousness. I assume that the disembodied voices that call out to Chroniko are not simply isolated memories but are memory-sets (memories plus consciousness). Unlike isolated memories, memory-sets seem to fit the bill of being capable of the kinds of complex emotional responses that the voices exhibit.

I find it rather difficult to swallow that a unique consciousness, laden with memories (and thus personality) is not a person or at least something closely approximate to one, even if such a thing is without a body. Similarly, I am not willing to claim that a blank-slate amnesiac, or the elderly lady in Kaiba, is not a person.
blkmage (post: 1505844) wrote:how much "stuff" do you need to gather before all of that stuff becomes a person?
As I said, this is the thorny path laden with headaches. Perhaps we are safer and saner keeping our definitions looser than an answer to this question requires.
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Postby Ante Bellum » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:51 pm

This may or may not answer a question I was thinking about earlier. If a person with a limp were to possess (can I use that word or is there something else that fits better?) a body that had perfectly good legs, would they continue to limp? Essentially, would a person's control of an injured body transfer to other bodies?
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Postby blkmage » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:58 pm

The memory-set in Kaiba is not only a collection of memories but also whatever components are needed to have memories in the first place. Let's call this apparatus consciousness. I assume that the disembodied voices that call out to Chroniko are not simply isolated memories but are memory-sets (memories plus consciousness). Unlike isolated memories, memory-sets seem to fit the bill of being capable of the kinds of complex emotional responses that the voices exhibit.

Yeah, I can agree with that. However, going into my assumptions on how the mechanics of memories work out in that world, I think that the recoverable memories in the chips are people, while memories that are loose and in the wild are not. This is because there's no guarantee that they'll physically stay together to continue to form the person they were (otherwise, it wouldn't suck as much when the memories just get jettisoned, since you could theoretically find and recover them) and what probably results is the voices and shadows that are sort of like ghosts. Of course, that's just my extrapolation.

This may or may not answer a question I was thinking about earlier. If a person with a limp were to possess (can I use that word or is there something else that fits better?) a body that had perfectly good legs, would they continue to limp? Essentially, would a person's control of an injured body transfer to other bodies?

My guess is that there'd be the memory of it (kind of like the phantom pain that an amputee might experience) until they learn it off or something.
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Postby Ante Bellum » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:52 pm

Ah, yeah. Sounds about right.

Anyway.

Today. This episode. I'll be doing my best to not skip ahead after that ending.
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Postby Maokun » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:55 pm

Ah yeah, episode 6 was much better, returning to the quality standards of the rest of the series and a much more coherent narrative. Heartbreaking, as we by now have surely grown accostumed for the series to be, and pushing the overarching plot forward.

I wonder why the memory eating plants are called as our hero, though I'm starting to suspect that our hero was nicknamed Kaiba in reference to what the plants do and no the other way around.

blkmage (post: 1505817) wrote:It necessarily works like that in the real world too. We obviously don't keep all of our memories either, but we don't notice it because we, uh, forget. It's just a consequence of physics. So maybe it isn't that you can't create new memories, but you have nowhere to store them until you offload them somewhere.

A slight tangent, but this train of thought is how my quantum information class began. Even though we like to think of information or data as this abstract idea, it's very much governed and restricted by the laws of physics. You need to keep data somewhere, whether it's on a piece of paper or a hard disk or a brain and all of these things have physical limits. The trick is to come up with efficient ways of recording this information to stretch the limits of whatever we're using to store it.

Coming back to Kaiba and the latest episode, if you think about it, a lot of our "memories" have already left our head simply because there's not enough room for them all. Most of it is in the form of words or photographs (like the old couple was doing for their tour) or audio or video. And it might even be more convenient to have a bunch of your memories tagged with EXIF data in iPhoto or something. In this form, it's pretty safe to say that these disembodied memories aren't people.


This thread of thought dangles solely on technical specs that I believe are intentionally not worked into the series to allow for more freedom. What I'm trying to say is that we don't know the capacity of the "memory chips": are they more capacious than a human brain? Less? In the real world memories can be simply forgotten but this is more a matter of decay of the physical integrity of the brain cells with age, lack of use or external influences than of "room".

In the case of Patch, it was definitely a case of lack of room: the memories were so tightly packed to the full capacity of the abstract containment unit, that Warp couldn't even dislodge old memories from it, and I'm pretty sure it was implied this was a result of living for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years.
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Postby GeneD » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:21 pm

I caught up to episode 6 so that I could join the Let's Watch (although I don't know how much I'll be able to contribute). I've seen Kaiba before but, let's just say some of the end went over my head so I don't mind watching it again.

I won't backtrack to previous episodes except to say that I love the rubbery sound the hippo-body makes. I don't know why.

blkmage (post: 1505875) wrote:I think that the recoverable memories in the chips are people, while memories that are loose and in the wild are not. This is because there's no guarantee that they'll physically stay together to continue to form the person they were (otherwise, it wouldn't suck as much when the memories just get jettisoned, since you could theoretically find and recover them) and what probably results is the voices and shadows that are sort of like ghosts. Of course, that's just my extrapolation.

I agree with this. I got the impression that all similar memories, like the memory of hunger or the memory of wanting one's mother as a child, sort of congeal together into one big memory mass. Or maybe without a chip or body the weaker/smaller memories of a person fades away/mixes with others beyond recognition and only one or two very strong memories survive in an identifiable and individual state. At the very least, even if the memories survive as a whole person, I think they would "go mad" or somehow lose most of their sense of self if left out in the open like that for long.
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Postby blkmage » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:54 pm

Maokun (post: 1507211) wrote:This thread of thought dangles solely on technical specs that I believe are intentionally not worked into the series to allow for more freedom. What I'm trying to say is that we don't know the capacity of the "memory chips": are they more capacious than a human brain? Less? In the real world memories can be simply forgotten but this is more a matter of decay of the physical integrity of the brain cells with age, lack of use or external influences than of "room".

You're right in that we don't know the capacity of the chips, but the idea is that you can manage and preserve memories easily now that you can just treat them like data.

And while that's how brain cells work mechanically, the effect is still the same: brain cells decay and new ones grow, but there's still a physical limit to how many cells you have and, hence, a physical limit on how much you can store. What motivated this train of thought was the difference in humans before and after the discovery of writing. Through writing, we have a way of managing and preserving our thoughts, whereas before, we'd have to try and remember it all.

This idea of management and preservation actually ties into something I was thinking about, which is why they don't just store stuff in the cloud, but I remembered something about backups being uploaded or something, so I guess they do.
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Postby blkmage » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:35 pm

OH YEAH, there was something that stood out to me in the latest episode that wasn't computer science wankery. The previous episode introduced us to the concept of the biological properties of the body affecting the behaviour of whoever's mind is inhabiting it and we had Warp in Chroniko's body being attracted to girl in guy's body.

In this episode, we find out that the girl in the guy's body was Neiro. Coincidence? Or perhaps there's some latent trigger that causes a mutual attraction in the both of them without them knowing it? After all, Warp's problem is that Neiro isn't guaranteed to be in her body even if he can find her, and that was the case in this instance.
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Postby ich1990 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:54 pm

Stuff went down in episode seven. It was creepy, redemptive, and foreboding, all in equal portions.

Episode 8 was a lot like episodes 1 and 2 for me in that it was hard to follow. It sure answered a lot of back-story questions I had been waiting on, though.
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Postby blkmage » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:17 pm

Here's an interesting question. If I transfer someone's memories and put it into a computer (which we've actually seen happen in Kaiba), is the computer that person? Further, does that imply that, theoretically, AIs can be sentient?
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Postby Maokun » Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:17 am

But apparently, in the series, human memories are inherently organical. Even separated from their bodies, they act like thick droplets in the air that can form veritable oceans. And Kaiba definitely gets nourishment from them. I reckon that AIs in this universe wouldn't have those characteristics.

The fact that technologies have been devised that allow people to interact with those memories in digital-like ways (read, edit, overwrite, archive, etc.) may give the appearance that they differ little from ROM storage, but I think it's definitive that the "humanness" of it cannot be recreated. (Note that there's a traffic and trade of memories which is result of the incapability of actually /create/ memories by artificial methods.

Having said that, I recently watched episode 8, which is our long-awaited flashback episode -though with the expected narrative fragmentation we've come to expect from Kaiba. Nevertheless, for once, more questions were answered than created and now we know the backgrounds and motivations of most of the major players in the series.
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Postby TheSubtleDoctor » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:05 pm

DAT ENDING:

Discuss and interpret.
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Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:32 pm

An excellent series, even if not all of the art style pleases me visually.

I'm having a brain fart moment, just wondering if anyone else who's seen Kaiba can help me out. I'm trying to remember the name of a character. They're a bounty hunter of sorts and primarily use a pistol and often say the catchphrase "Bang!" I'm tossing up between Popo, Vanilla, and Cloak. Vanilla is my top guess. Anyone able to help? Thanks!
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Postby blkmage » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:36 pm

Vanilla is the sheriff guy, Popo is the guy who leads the guys who don't do mind transfer, so by process elimination, probably Cloak. Unless I'm wrong ofc.
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Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:41 pm

Hmm... that's true but maybe I've left out some characters. Does Cloak ever wield a pistol? He's definitely the bounty hunter type. Thanks.
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Postby blkmage » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:42 pm

I don't actually remember who Cloak is.
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Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:48 pm

Here you go.

EDIT: Don't mind me. It was a major brain fart. I had the wrong anime series to begin with. I was thinking of Spike from Cowboy Bebop. Very different to Kaiba.

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Postby Maokun » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:01 pm

TheSubtleDoctor (post: 1517212) wrote:DAT ENDING:

Discuss and interpret.


Well, since no one else answered this challenge and for several reasons, only now I finished this series, I'm necroing this thread. Spoilers ahead.



To get started, I'll mention one of the few things at which I believe Kaiba failed: The distribution and balance of hard-plot geared episodes and the slow, episodic, slice-of-weird-life ones. The first episode is a mix of high-revved plot in which we're dropped in media res and a collection of "life in a weird universe" clips]the whole episode makes HEAPS of more sense once you have finished the series, btw. I definitely recommend watching at the very least the three first episode right after you finish.[/I]) Then, from episode 2 onwards -until episode 8- the series increasingly deals with separated slice of life adventures and less with the overarching plot. Then suddenly, the series totally abandons the slice of life stuff and deals solely with the plot, showering us with a load of new, important characters and whole episodes dedicated to backstory as we quickly rush towards the epic end.

This series really needed to be longer and have better interspersed plot episodes among the slice of life. Having said that, the series was excellent and as rushed and information-heavy the last episodes were, it managed to satisfactorily close all the plot lines while still having a high emotional impact.

While most of the small mysteries and twists were fairly straightforward and predictable, the most pivotal one to the whole series (the long-legged bird having Warp's mother's memories) took me totally by surprise and after rewatching the series, I can say it was masterfully handled and hidden in plain sight the whole time. It is, by itself, a proof of the brilliance of the series.

The ending episode itself was a bit more showy than what I personally feel it was needed for a series like this, with mecha battles, unwarranted resurrections, a new, uber-powered antagonist and more explosions than a Michael Bay's rendition of a TNT factory demolition. However, it managed to keep the focus in the psychological and emotional aspects of the series, so it's all good.

In the end, this strange universe provided a unique redemption chance for our flawed heroes and antagonists: the erasure of all their memories. Unbound from the sins and the pain from their past, will they manage to build new, better relationships and create a better universe? That's for them to decide.
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